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Parrott to 'Dirt Road' marathon

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- The small community of Parrott, which currently boasts a population of almost 200 people, will soon swell with a swarm of visitors this Memorial Day.

According to Ed Wade, mayor of Parrott, the town has spent weeks preparing to host the "Dirt Road Run" for members of Team in Training out of Cobb County -- a first for Parrott.

"We have mapped out a course for them and we've had a lot of donations made to help support it," said the Mayor of Parrott.

Wade's daugther-in-law Anna Wade, a member of Team in Training, first approached her in-laws about hosting a marathon when flood waters in Nashville, Tenn., halted a marathon for most of the members.

While Wade, a half-marathon runner, was able to finish before that race was canceled, many of her teammates could not. She said the runners with Team in Training were disappointed at not finishing the marathon after months of hard work and training.

"Almost all the runners who participated in Nashville will be there (at the Dirt Road Run in Parrott)," she said.

Anna Wade, a native of the small town, said the idea to have a make-up event for the runners in Parrott began as a team joke.

"They (her teammates) had heard a lot about Parrott and we had already planned to go down as a team and visit when someone suggested that we incorporate a marathon," she said.

So she made a preliminary call to her in-laws, Ed and Kathy Wade, to ask if a marathon in the Terrell County town were possible.

"They have been really supportive. They were a little hesitant at first, but now they are excited about it," said Wade of her in-laws' reaction.

The runner said many of her teammates hail from different areas throughout the United States, as well as the Caribbean, and many have never seen dirt roads or experienced the charm of a small Southern town. Anna Wade said the name of the marathon, "Dirt Road Run," came from the course being primarily dirt roads throughout Parrott.

"It will not have all the glam of a typical marathon, but I think it will be just as fun. It will be a chance to give them (her team members) a taste of Southern culture," she said.

The marathon will be relying heavily on family members and community volunteers to assist on race day. "It will be a community event," said Anna Wade. "We have a lot of local sponsors that have donated medals, t-shirts and other supplies. Everyone has been really supportive."

Race medals were donated by Sailormen Inc., t-shirts were from KTS Graphics in Kennesaw and race numbers and race bags were donated by Big Peach Running Co. in Atlanta.

Parents, spouses and friends will be setting up hydration station along the course, while others will be recording finish times, monitoring the course, taking photos and making post-race snacks for the runners.

Anna Wade said because of the speed at which the marathon was organized, the race is invitation only.

The Cobb County Team in Training program is a team of runners who raise money to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society -- the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to battling blood cancer.

The team has raised a little more than $20,000 to find a cure for blood cancers.

The "Dirt Road Run" is scheduled to begin at 5:45 a.m. Monday in Parrott.

Anna Wade said while she is excited about visiting her hometown, she still can't believe the small town will be hosting the marathon.

"I can't believe we are running in Parrott," she said. "I'm really excited though and grateful for the community's support of Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."