You won’t have to travel all the way to the mythical land of Oz to take part in this year’s Wicked Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K races. In fact, you don’t even need to find a yellow brick road.
You just need to travel west on US-24 highway to the town of Wamego on March 30 to face other like-minded runners to raise money for several good causes while having lots of fun.
Now in its sixth year, the Wicked Marathon/Half Marathon and 5K runs sponsored by Body First have the goal of getting more people — especially youngsters — more active. Doug Sellers, CEO of Body First and the race's director, answered questions about the upcoming event.
I see this is the sixth edition of this event. What led to its creation? How has it changed over the years?
I have been race directing or helping run races for 20 years and noticed that nobody was doing a race that followed the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in Kansas. The artwork in the book is beautiful and makes great finisher awards. The first year of the race was a marathon. The following years we added a half marathon, then a 5K.
When will the races take place? What is the entry fee? Is there a rain date in case of inclement weather?
The races take place on March 30. Entry fee for the marathon is $100, half marathon is $75 and the 5K is $40 as of March 1. The race has a no cancellation policy and will run no matter what the weather is.
Where do the races begin and end? What kind of terrain will the racers traverse?
The race starts and finishes in front of the Oz Museum in Wamego. The entire course is asphalt, with many rolling hills.
How will the Wizard of Oz theme be carried out?
The finisher medals, top male and female trophies, and age group awards all use Wizard of Oz artwork. There are Wizard of Oz characters that welcome you to the finish line and pose for pictures with the runners.
So the winners will receive more than just the bragging rights?
All finishers receive an award. The top three men and women receive an Emerald City trophy. Top three finishers in each age group will receive a Flying Monkey award.
What is this purpose of this event? Is it just for fun or is it a fundraiser? If the latter, who is the beneficiary of this event?
This race is a fundraiser for many different nonprofits and organizations, including the Wamego High School Cross Country program, Body First School Fitness Challenge (raises money for local elementary PE programs to get kids active), Speedy PD 5K, 10K (raises money for the Meadowlark Hills Parkinson's Program), the Manhattan Cross Country Club and many others.
I see there is also a virtual race. What does this event encompass? When was it added?
The virtual race was started the first year to help us reach more people across the country. The entire race is put on by Body First Wellness & Recreation and their main goal is to make people active in some fashion. The virtual race can be run anywhere in the country. They just have to provide us with proof that they ran the distance on the dates that are allowed.
Can a person enter both the virtual and regular race if he/she pays both entry fees?
Yes. In the past, we have had people run one race at the event and another race virtually.
Tell me a little about Body First, which is the sponsor for the event.
Body First Wellness & Recreation Center started 21 years ago as a massage therapy business with its main focus being on athletes. The business grew in many different ways over the years but always kept its focus on getting people active.
Are there any other activities offered in conjunction with the races? If so, what are they?
March 29 is the pasta dinner. It is held at Iron Clad in Wamego. There's live music and photo ops with the Wizard of Oz characters.
Where should entries be sent, or should they all be made online?
Entries are only online at https://runsignup.com/Race/KS/Wamego/WickedFast.
Carolyn Kaberline is a freelance writer from Topeka. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.