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Mekonen set to defend title at 2018 Crazy 8s 8K

Tanner Cook • Updated Jun 27, 2018 at 8:06 PM

KINGSPORT — The 28th annual Ballad Health and Niswonger Children’s Hospital Crazy 8s 8K road race is slated to begin on the evening of July 14th as part of the Kingsport Fun Fest.

The race is continually one of the fastest in not only the Southeast, but the entire world, boasting some of the leading times for 8K all-time.

The race will also feature the top three finishers in last year’s race making a return trip to the Model City to chase the world record and the $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 minutes, 45 seconds set the world standard.

Last year’s champion Teshome Mekonen has run well this year with a third-place finish at the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. He will be on the starting line along with Silas Kipruto, Wilson Kibogo and Simion Chirchir.

The Teleperformance “Dash for the Gold” $5,000 prize will be given to the first runner across the finish line again this year.

However, this year will be the final year that the race will run 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 press 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 nearly a mile long pull up to a left turn onto Warpath Drive, leading to the homestretch of the course.

The new course is not yet finalized, but a reveal will be 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 first medal of the 2018 Crazy 8s was presented at the press conference to Dobyns-Bennett head track and cross country coach Bob Bingham.

Bingham has been coaching 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.

He is also a history teacher and is a large presence in the community of Kingsport.

Other announcements at the press conference included the Race-to-Raise Charities members that will split a $5,000 between five different charities, based on participation. These charities include Ainsley’s Angels, American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kingsport, Healthy Kingsport and the Kingsport Animal Shelter.

The 2018 Crazy 8s Torch Bearer will be in memory of Kingsport police officer Sean Cornett, 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 Dobyns-Bennett for the past eight years.

His family and friends will carry the torch before the race begins.

The day will be kicked off with the Little 8s Youth Field Day with races and field day activities from distances ranging from 100 yards to 600 yards. The Special 8s events will also be returning this year with races for individuals with special needs.

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

The 3K will be run about an hour before the 8K. The 8K start will again be at 8:58 p.m. this year.

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