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Wednesday February 6, 2019

Martinsville is well known for racing.  Cars and trucks, that is!  A popular NASCAR venue since 1947, Martinsville Speedway draws thousands of fans several times a year to watch world famous drivers and race teams vie for the checkered flag.

The area is fast becoming known for another type of racing.  Runners gather throughout the year to compete in events conducted by Miles in Martinsville, the running arm of the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA.  The Miles in Martinsville Race Series includes competition at distances ranging from one mile up to the Half Marathon.  The series features unique events like the Martinsville Half Marathon and 5K, the Super Run 5K & 8K, the Martinsville Speedway Mile, the Harvest Moon 5K & 10K, the Turkey Day 5K & Family Fun Run, and the Light up the Night 5K.  The venues are likewise unique with locations varying from uptown streets, paved trails, and suburban lakes, to the Martinsville Speedway itself.

March 30, 2019 will mark the 9th annual running of the Martinsville Half Marathon & 5K.  This event represents the capstone event of the Miles in Martinsville Race Series. This year’s event is presented by VisitMartinsville, the Tourism Division of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation.

Both races start and finish at the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA in beautiful uptown Martinsville, Virginia.  Included in the start/finish festivities will be music, food, kid’s activities and vendors featuring running gear, physical therapy, and associated goods and services.

Starting at the YMCA, the first two miles of the Half Marathon follow city streets through uptown Martinsville. Here, the course provides an excellent warmup to racers as they descend some 75 feet before connecting to the area’s paved trail system.  The majority of the Half Marathon is run on the scenic Dick & Willie Passage, a smooth paved rail trail which runs through Martinsville and Henry County. The USATF certified course is challenging but fair, negotiating rolling hills while following the rail bed of the former Danville & Western Railroad.  Once runners enter the trail, they navigate 9 miles of great scenery, rolling hills and smooth paved running surface. They cruise by wooded glades, industrial sites, idyllic creeks and the iconic Dick & Willie Bridge to “Everywhere”. Then, the race returns to Uptown Martinsville for the final two miles as it makes its way to the finish line at the YMCA.

The 5K along with the early miles of the Half Marathon is run on the streets of uptown Martinsville, taking participants past a number of community landmarks, including the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center, Virginia Museum of Natural History, the Uptown Farmers Market, the Baldwin Building and the historic Henry County Courthouse.

Dick Beardsley, nationally known author, motivational speaker and former elite marathoner spoke and competed at the 2016 & 2018 Martinsville events. When asked about his impression of the Martinsville Half Marathon, he responded, "If you are looking for a really fun well organized half marathon you can't go wrong with the Martinsville Half! It's a beautiful course through the woods with great support from the many wonderful volunteers, in my book it's a winner!"

Keeping with the Martinsville Half Marathon & 5K slogan, “Be Inspired – Be Inspiring”, the event features the unique “Inspiration Wall”.  This program allows runners to dedicate their race to a person or cause which motivates them to compete.  Participating runners are given the opportunity to sign an Inspiration Wall banner indicating the subject of their dedication.  Participants often choose to honor a loved one, cite a charity or create awareness to a worthy cause.

Area attractions include the Martinsville Speedway, a major stop on the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series racing schedule.  The Speedway is celebrating its 72nd Anniversary this year!  Philpott Lake, Smith River and nearby Smith Mountain Lake are hubs for fishing and boating.  The Virginia Museum of Natural History, Piedmont Arts and the other six area museums offer ample opportunities to browse and learn. Hotels and restaurants throughout Martinsville-Henry County add the finishing touches for a fine visitor experience!  Further information on dining, shopping and area tourism can be found at the Martinsville-Henry County Visitor Center located at 191 Fayette Street in Martinsville, or by visiting their website at www.visitmartinsville.com. 

For event details and race registration, interested runners should visit the Miles in Martinsville website at www.milesinmartinsville.com.

Tags: Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail, Henry County, Insider's Tips, Martinsville, Martinsville Speedway, MHC Visitor Center, Miles in Martinsville, Philpott Lake, Piedmont Arts, River, Running , Smith River, Smith River Trail System, Sports, Virginia Museum of Natural History