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Rain 'perfect' for racers
Rain doesn't dampen enthusiasm of Marine Corps Historic Half runners

 Joanne Studer of Vienna, whose granddaughter was a competitor, cheers runners on Prince Edward Street.
DAVE ELLIS/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 5/18/2009

BY PAMELA GOULD

At the inaugural running of the Marine Corps Historic Half, finishers received a commemorative hand towel to wipe their sweat.

This year, runners could have used a beach towel--to dry off or warm up.

As a Civil War re-enactor fired a musket to start the second running of the Historic Half at 7 yesterday morning, a light mist fell.

By the time the Semper Fred 5-k began 15 minutes later, rain was falling steadily.

And before most runners had finished the longer race, they had endured more than one heavy downpour.

But few of the runners interviewed yesterday complained about the weather conditions.

One woman had concerns beforehand that the moisture might increase the odds of blisters. Another said afterward that the weather had fogged her glasses.

But seasoned runners were pleased with the conditions--both the rain and temperatures in the 50s.

"I love it," 65-year-old Durrell Boyd of King George County said as he walked to the starting point of the half-marathon.

"It feels great. It will especially feel good later [in the race]," the regular participant in Fredericksburg Area Running Club events added.

The Marine Corps Historic Half started and finished at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center. In between, it made its way through downtown Fredericksburg and past Mary Washington Hospital.

Nearly 6,700 people registered for the race, including runners from seven foreign countries and every state in the U.S. except Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming and South Dakota. More than 5,000 people started yesterday's race, and all but 84 finished.

SUPPORTERS TURN OUT DESPITE THE RAIN

Along the 13.1-mile route, runners were cheered by family, friends and city residents who stood under the cover of porches, inside tents or beneath umbrellas.

In front of a house on Prince Edward Street, someone displayed a sheet, attached to a pickup, with a hand-painted message that read: "TOO LATE TO TURN BACK NOW. YOU ARE OVER HALFWAY."

At the intersection of Princess Anne and William streets, the Maranatha Touring Choir set up a keyboard inside the back of its box truck. With that as accompaniment, more than a dozen voices harmonized on upbeat melodies with lyrics including "The Lord will make a way" and "Walk together children. Don't get weary."


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6,671

Registered for the 2009 Marine Corps Historic Half

5,007

Started the 13.1-mile race

4,923

Finished the race

719

Registered for the Semper Fred 5-k run

546

Started the 5-k

509

Finished the 5-k

If running 13.1 miles through historic Fredericksburg appeals to you, online registration for the next Marine Corps Historic Half begins Nov. 18. The race will be held May 16, 2010. ON THE NET:

marinecorpshistorichalf.com