The race was, for a number of years, home to both the men’s and women’s world records for the 8-kilometer distance until Stephen Sambu broke the men’s record in 22:01 in 2014 en route to 10K in Boston. Asmae Leghzaoui still holds the women’s world record at 24:27. The course record in Kingsport continues to be Peter Githuka’s 22:03 from 1996.
“Seven of the top eight finishers finished under 23 minutes last year. In order to duplicate it, we have to have a deep field,” Crazy 8s co-director Hank Brown said Wednesday. “We have to have the numbers. We’d like to have eight to twelve guys that could all have a chance to win the race.”
The elite field this year includes three of the top four returning finishers, including defending champion Yitayal Atanafu of Ethiopia. One of the other strong contenders is Mourad Marofit, who finished fourth last year. Brown said that Marofit is a runner who contends in just about every race he runs and he is willing to push the pace early.
“We just hope that one of the runners has a magical night,” Brown said. “When Githuka broke the record in ’96, he was not anyone that we got very excited about. We weren’t expecting the record that night. he had one of those magical nights.”
There will be some changes in the event this year, including the start time of the event. The start time has moved up from 9:58 p.m. to 8:58 p.m. The Almost Crazy 3K Run/Walk will be moved up to 7:58 p.m. This is to mainly attract more families and to hopefully cut down on the humidity during the race.
“We’ve done some research and we went back in the weather history of the race,” Brown said. “We looked at what the average temperature was and what the humidity was at nine o’clock versus ten o’clock. We expect the temperature to be a bit higher, but the humidity to be a few percentage points lower. If I was trading off, I’d be trading off for humidity versus temperature. This was really Natalie (Whitlock’s) idea, so we can thank her,” he said.
The biggest change is the new timing of the Almost Crazy 3K Run/Walk. In previous years, the 3K event has not been timed. The new twist includes a special finishers for runners that complete both the Almost Crazy 3K Run/Walk and the Crazy 8s 8K called the Totally Crazy medal. The medal will consist of the regular 8K finishers medal and then a special ring that will go around the medal. The Totally Crazy competition will be capped at 250 entrants.
The race will once again be raising money for a multitude of charities in the Race To Raise Charities. When runners sign up for any race, they can pick a charity to receive a portion of their entry fee. The race will present $6,000 to seven different charities, based on participation in each of the Crazy 8s events.
Teresa Duffy will be the Crazy 8s torch bearer. Duffy is a special education teacher of 24 years and is the track coach at Grandview School. Duffy was diagnosed with breast cancer in December. During her chemotherapy, Duffy completed a number of races including two of the tougher half marathons in the area at the Varmint Half Marathon and the Bristol Half and Half Marathon.