WHEELING - The Debbie Green Memorial 5K has evolved into the Super Bowl of area road races.
And as the 2013 event is just two months away, race director Ron Green and his committee have been working tirelessly to make sure this year's "Race for a Reason" is even more successful.
The Debbie Green 5K will once again aid Ohio Valley children battling leukemia. As has been the case the last several years, the beneficiaries will be announced on race weekend.
"We've helped 25 families so far in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania," Green said. "We want to keep doing what we're doing and put on a great race for the participants and everyone involved."
As has been the case with each of the past 15 races, which will begin and end at Heritage Port in downtown Wheeling, Green has some new tricks up his sleeve to enhance the overall experience for the better than 1,000 runners and walkers who are expected to converge on the friendly city.
One big change in the race is on the calendar. Green has pushed the race back two weeks to Saturday, Aug. 17, hoping that the heat and humidity is somewhat less than it was at its former home on the first Saturday in August.
"I think the date is going to work out for the better for us," Green said. "It's got to be a little cooler two weeks later, right? You would think. The only type of holdback for us has been the oppressive heat, but it's still summer and it's in the evening. The heat has been unfair to us the last five or six years, so we're due for some good weather. If we get the weather that I'm hoping for, I really believe the sky is the limit for this year's race."
Keeping the date, but moving to the race to the morning was never considered because the Debbie Green 5K has developed into more than just a race.
"We have an event and there are no family events held at 8 o'clock in the morning," Green said. "We want to have an enjoyable evening. We want people to come out and enjoy themselves."
The festivities once again get under way on Friday night with the Green Mile, which is being held in memory of Kristopher Klubert of Yorkville, who died tragically earlier this year; Tom "Dino" Smith of Benwood and Randy Stephens of Wheeling.
"We're going to honor those three's lives and try to make it an evening where their families are able to pay tribute to their loved ones," Green said. "I am expecting a very big crowd for that."
There's also a pasta night being held at Undo's in Benwood and there will be complimentary pizza courtesy of Domino's available at the Heritage Port.
A new addition to the Friday night lineup is the addition of musical entertainment. A radio live remote will run from 2-4 p.m. Then, from 4-6, "local entertainment" will perform on a stage and then during the race a disc jockey will be playing music.
After the race awards' ceremony, Modern Rock/Pop Christian recording artists Guy Franklin will perform.
"We know Guy Franklin is going to postively rock that port," Green said. "They're a great band and it's going to be the night they release their second album nationally."
Green indicated there could be additional entertainment for Saturday, but he'd not finalized it totally.
"I am always thinking about this race and different ways to improve this race and do new and different things," Green said. "I've got a system and while I try to improve it each year, I stick with the system."
Much like the rest of the world, the Green Memorial 5K is using social media to help draw entrants. Green has set up a Facebook page for the race, "Debbie Green Memorial 5K RUN/WALK for Leukemia."
If that Facebook page gets at least 1,700 "likes" on Facebook or the race gets 1,500 5K finishers, one lucky 5K participant will win a trip to Walt Disney World.
The cost to enter the race has remained the same, but Green is highly encouraging folks to register early.
Registration is currently available for $20, but on Aug. 7, the fee goes up to $25 and the cost is $30 on race weekend for the 5K. The cost of the Green Mile is $13 currently or $15 on race weekend.
The first 1,200 to register are guaranteed a custom-made medallion and a dry-fit shirt. There will be a post-race dinner and numerous door prizes, including a getaway at Seven Springs, a trip to Myrtle Beach, available.
One very popular aspect of the race, which will continue, is the team challenge. The business or group that has the most finishers will receive a steak fry courtesy of Undo's. Plus, three additional teams, drawn randomly, will receive a steak fry.
"Every team has a chance regardless of how many people you have on your team," Green said. "It's been a very good way of getting groups of people to come out."
The highly popular Debbie's Dash, which is a 100 yard run, for children 9 and under, will continue. The entry fee is just $3. A grand prize of a trip to Kings Island and the Great Wolf Lodge near Cincinnati is up for grabs during that event along with two boys and two girls bicycles, donated by Terry Whitecotton.
Mylan has come on board as the title sponsor for the race this year.