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Crazy 8s changing up 8K course after this year

Tanner Cook • Jun 27, 2018 at 9:21 PM

KINGSPORT — The Ballad Health and Niswonger Children’s Hospital Crazy 8s 8K road race, set for the night of Saturday, July 14, is back for its 28th year — but the last on its current course.

Race co-director Hank Brown announced Wednesday that the figure-8 course will be different starting in 2019.

“We’re going to try to make it flatter and we’re going to cut out the hill,” Brown said during a news conference at Food City on Eastman Road. “Every year, we have a bunch of guys that are quality enough to challenge the world record, but when they get to the hill on Fort Henry Drive, we fall behind.”

The infamous hill on Fort Henry Drive is a nearly mile-long pull up to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant with the left turn onto Warpath to go down the homestretch of the course.

Still, the race remains one of the fastest in not only the Southeast but also the world, boasting some of the all-time best 8K times.

The new course is not yet finalized, but a reveal is coming soon.

“We think that people will want to come out to help send off the old course this year and then help christen the new course next year. We’re also hoping to get the 3K course certified. The new course will look to go through more of the area neighborhoods around the school,” Brown said.

The Crazy 8s 8K, part of Kingsport’s Fun Fest festivities, has back the top-three finishers from last year’s race to take on the world record and the accompanying $10,008 world-record bonus. A high bar was set earlier this year at the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K in New York, where a certified 8K split of 21:45 set the world standard.

Last year’s Crazy 8s 8K champion, Teshome Mekonen, has been running well this year and posted a third-place finish at the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. Joining him on the starting line are last year’s runner-up and third-place finisher, Wilson Kibogo and Simion Chirchir, along with Silas Kipruto.

The Teleperformance “Dash for the Gold” $5,000 prize again goes to the first runner across the finish line.

The first medal of the 2018 Crazy 8s, however, has already been awarded. Dobyns-Bennett track and cross country coach Bob Bingham received that honor during Wednesday’s news conference.

Bingham has coached at D-B for over 25 years as both an assistant and head coach. He played football for the Indians in the early 1970s and went on to play football and run track at Emory & Henry College.

Also a history teacher, Bingham is a large presence in the Kingsport community.

Also on Wednesday, Crazy 8s officials announced the Race-to-Raise Charities members, five nonprofits that will split a $5,000 pot among them based on participation in all of the Crazy 8s events. Those charities are Ainsley’s Angels, the American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Healthy Kingsport and the Kingsport Animal Shelter.

The 2018 Crazy 8s pre-race torch carry is in memory of Sean Cornett, the Kingsport police officer who passed away earlier this year. Cornett was a fixture at the road race, always greeting runners and spectators he knew with a smile and a hug. He served as a student resource officer at D-B for the past eight years.

Cornett’s family and friends are to be the torch bearers.

The Little 8s Youth Field Day kicks off the day with races and field-day activities featuring distances ranging from 100 yards to 600 yards. The Special 8s also return with races for individuals with special needs.

Again this year, participants that complete both the Almost Crazy 3K and the Crazy 8s 8K will receive a special “Totally Crazy” medal in addition to the regular 8K finishers medal. There are only 350 available, however.

The 3K is scheduled for a 7:58 p.m. start and the 8K start time is 8:58 p.m. again this year.