Event director Hank Brown discusses the upcoming world renowned Crazy 8s 8K Run at a press conference at Food City on Thursday. Photo by David Grace.
KINGSPORT — “It’s the place to be.”
With those words, Hank Brown, event director, best described what the Crazy 8s Road Race has become.
The 24th running of the Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K run will take place on the world famous figure-8 course on Saturday, July 13 at 9:58 p.m.
Begun in 1990, the Crazy 8s has grown from 903 participants to 3,884 in 2012.
“We fully expect to exceed 4,000 participants this year,” said Brown.
The day’s event kicks off with the McDonald’s of Greater Kingsport Little 8s Youth Field Day that includes the Special 8s for individuals with special needs.
Neil’s Walk, a 3K event presented by Wellmont/CVA Heart Institute, Holston Medical Group and Eastman Credit Union, will proceed the Crazy 8s 8K. The event is named for Neil Danehy who died suddenly from a heart attack in 2005.
The Neil Danehy Foundation, created to raise awareness and help combat coronary heart disease, raised $11,000 last year through the Neil’s Walk event.
Recognized as the world’s fastest 8K, the Crazy 8s has the distinction of holding both the men’s and women’s world records at that distance.
Kenya’s Peter Githuka set the men’s world record of 22:02.2 in 1996. Morocco’s Asmae Leghzaoui has the women’s world standard of 24:27.8, posted in 2002.
The vision that Brown had when he first conceived the idea of the Crazy 8s has grown beyond his wildest expectations.
“When we started we really didn’t know what would happen,” said Brown. “Things rarely work out like you planned, but right now I’d have to say that the Crazy 8s has become everything I thought it could be.”
The event has become a “happening.” The start-finish at J. Fred Johnson Stadium attracts thousands of spectators.
“People just come to hang out,” added Brown. “It’s the place to be on that day. I have people tell me all the time that they’re sure this is the year that the world record will be broken and they want to be there to see it happen.”
Again this year, the Crazy 8s will bring together a world-class field of runners in an attempt to challenge Githuka’s now mythical world record.
Any runner who sets a new a world record will earn the Regional Eye Center’s bonus of $10,008.
Two-time Crazy 8s champion Shadrack Kosgei from Kenya has committed to this year’s race. He holds the fourth-best time in race history at 22:06. Besides his wins in 2010-11, Kosgei was second last year and has also added a third-place finish to his impressive resume.
“We all love Shadrack,” said Brown. “He’s pretty much done it all here at Crazy 8s except break the world record. We’ll see if he can do that this year.”
Tolossa Gedefa, a 21-year-old from Ethiopia, is also entered in this year’s event. He recently won the prestigious Bay To Breakers 12K in San Francisco, setting up an interesting matchup with the 28-year-old Kosgei.
“The field is shaping up nicely,” added Brown. “Donna Bays, our elite athlete recruiter, is working extremely hard to bring some of the top runners here to Kingsport.”
This year’s First Medals were awarded to representatives of the Kingport police, fire and public works departments.
“The Crazy 8s owes so much to these folks for making the race safe and fun for everyone,” said Brown.