Fitness, fun the goals for weekends Burli-Mot

Per Running USA State of the Sport Reports, a record 1.96 million runners finished U.S. half marathons in 2013.

It’s a figure that has enjoyed impressive growth in the last decade. Since 2003, the number of half marathon finishers in America has increased by 12.5 percent annually.

Minot will add over 200 names to the 2014 tally this weekend during the third running of the Burli-Mot Half Marathon, which begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at Old Settlers Park in Burlington.

“It’s really turning into a great celebration,” race director Connie Feist said. “It’s a good way to end the summer, that people can get out and be active together.”

Though the Burli-Mot will contain its fair share of individual competitors, athletes may also choose to run in teams.

Compared to last year, Feist indicated that fewer relay teams are registered to run this weekend. But she expects to see plenty of groups competing, members of all ages.

“If people aren’t quite ready to tackle the longer distances, they can still run,” Feist said. “We’ve had families with little kids – as young as 10 years old – running a leg with their family. We’ve had church groups, work groups. It really is a celebration.”

The longest leg of the course is the first, a four-mile stretch on gravel road.

As the race progresses, the legs become shorter. The final length is the shortest of all, measuring 2.7 miles with an end in Minot’s Oak Park.

This year’s race welcomes runners from 10 different states and two Canadian provinces.

“It’s gonna be a great, great day, a really exciting race for that half marathon,” Feist said.

“When we put together the running shop, we put this half marathon together, and it’s probably one of the only courses you can find where you can do 13.1 miles without having railroad tracks and the traffic and everything else. It has really become a goal for a lot of runners to strive for that distance.”

Mile One Running Shop has taken charge of the Burli-Mot’s operation since its inagural run in 2012.

Proceeds from the race will be reinvested into the community, Feist said, including support for high school and collegiate running programs as well as funding for local 5Ks.

And the Minot running community has responded. Over 50 volunteers will be on hand throughout the 13.1-mile course, performing several different duties to facilitate the race’s smooth, effective fulfillment.

“That’s what Minot usually does with these big events, it’s all volunteer efforts and they’ve all shown up for this,” Feist said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Two-time defending champion Kyle Sturdefant will not run this weekend.

A lane of traffic on 4th Ave. NW in Minot will be coned off Saturday morning to accommodate runners.

Joe Mellenbruch covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.