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Kilgore to Longview Run: Longview Running Club to hold run to benefit Heartsway Hospice

By Clare McCarthy
Dec. 27, 2017 at 7:50 a.m.
Updated Dec. 27, 2017 at 7:50 a.m.

Scnes from the Longview to Kilgore race on Saturday, Febuary 11, 2017 in downtown Kilgore  and at the Longview Rodeo Arena.(Courtney Case/News-Journal Photo)

When the Kilgore to Longview Run first began in 1976, the Longview Running Club didn’t expect it to become so popular. But by the late 1980s, the race brought in more than 600 runners and was a big hit with the surrounding communities. Every year, people came in droves to run the 11 miles along Texas 31 from downtown Kilgore to the Longview fairgrounds, and every year seemed a greater success.

But in the early 1990s, there was major construction along Texas 31, forcing the Longview Running Club to find a different route. The race was changed to the “Diana to Longview Run,” with the route following U.S. 259 into the north side of Longview. Because of some safety and technical issues, the race slowly fizzled out and eventually ended in 2001.

“We’d always talked about it in the club, just because it was so popular,” said Christina Little, secretary of the Longview Running Club. “And last year, we just decided to bring it back and see what happens.”

In February 2017, the Longview Running Club put on the first Kilgore to Longview Run in 16 years. The response was even better than expected, and now club organizers are preparing for the 2018 race.

“I think we were expecting about 150 participants,” Little said of the 2017 run. “But as registration progressed, we saw more and more people were signing up, and so we thought ‘OK, it’s going to be over 200.’”

More than 300 people, including some former members of the Longview Running Club, ended up running the race.

“When the running club was really big, they had so many faithful members,” Little said. “They’re older now, like in their 60s and 70s, and it was really great to see them all get together.”

The members took a picture together in 2017 and reminisced about the early days of the club, sharing fond memories of other club members who had passed away over the years.

And that wasn’t the only way the race brought the communities of Longview and Kilgore together. Proceeds from the race benefited Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that works to build affordable housing for those living in poverty. The club raised about $13,000 to give to the charity.

This year, the race will benefit HeartsWay Hospice, a nonprofit organization that provides hospice services to the terminally ill throughout Northeast Texas. Local businesses act as sponsors for the race and help raise funds for the charity.

Little said the Longview Running Club hopes to spotlight different charities each year.

“Anything that can help get local businesses and people together and help contribute to an event that benefits a local charity, that is really big,” she said. “And it touches a lot of people’s lives.”

The 2018 Kilgore to Longview Run will be held at 8 a.m. Feb. 10. Advance registration is $55 through Dec. 31. Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 8, advance registration is $65. Registration and information is available online at www.longviewrunningclub.com.

Runners are encouraged to register in advance and dress appropriately for the weather. Water, sports drinks and portable toilets will be provided along the route, and buses will shuttle people from the Longview fairgrounds to the start line in Kilgore. An after party featuring food, beverages and a live band will take place at the Longview fairgrounds following the race.

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