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Released October 30, 2003

By David Tisdale

HATTIESBURG - Faculty, staff, students and area residents of The University of Southern Mississippi have opportunities the weekend of Nov. 8 to challenge their physical endurance, or just to get out for some fresh air and exercise.

The Longleaf Trace Birthday Challenge, which will start and finish in Prentiss, provides the opportunity for participants to run, walk, inline skate or wheelchair their age in kilometers on the trace, which is a paved "Rails to Trails" facility running from Prentiss to Southern Miss Gateway on the university's campus just off West Fourth Street.

"It's a celebration of life and for health, and it's a great event," said Bill Powe, Lake Sehoy/Gateway manager at Southern Miss. "The Longleaf Trace is a unique outdoor experience, and the trace is beautiful this time of the year. It's a great way to get some exercise and experience nature, and we're inviting everyone to participate."

The event begins at 6 a.m. and the starting and finishing line is in the Longleaf Trace Park in Prentiss, near Columbia Avenue. Registration will also be available at the Gateway Park on the Southern Miss campus, across the street from the Southern Miss football practice field. Aid stations will be provided at three-mile intervals along the 40-mile trace, and there are eight rest stations along the route. The start time should be scheduled to finish a participant's "challenge distance" no later than 4 p.m. Food and entertainment will be available in the Longleaf Trace Park in Prentiss. There is no entry fee.

The Southern Miss Health Clinic is helping provide some of the first aid stations along the trace. "We wanted to do what we could to support the event, and get students, faculty and staff to take advantage of this great facility," said Susan Dobson, health educator with the clinic.

Hattiesburg's Wellness Center at Wesley Medical Center and the American Red Cross will also provide aid stations during this event.

Other events include the Ultra Run Nov. 8, which begins at 4 a.m. at the Southern Miss Gateway and ends in Prentiss. The American Red Cross will provide a support vehicle for this event.

On Sunday, Nov. 2, a memorial ride for the late Jerry Ryan, a Hattiesburg businessman who was a strong supporter of the trace, will be held at 1:30 p.m., with Pine Belt Friends of the Trace taking part to ride the trace in Ryan's memory.

All of these events are free of charge, and donations will be accepted to help support the Longleaf Trace. For more information contact Bill Powe at (601) 450-7245.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM