Runner eyes big goals

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July 6, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Melvin jaunt offers special attraction

She’s run a lap at Churchill Downs in the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby, along the Las Vegas strip and is nearing the halfway point of her goal to run half-marathons in all 50 states of the country.
So why is Amanda Jones so intrigued about coming to Iola this week?
Jones, 36, is one of the runners who will be in town Friday night and Saturday morning for the second Charley Melvin Run For Your Life.
The 5-kilometer run starts at the stroke of 12:26 a.m. Saturday near the Iola post office, 105 years to the minute after the infamous Charley Melvin lit the fuse to blast to smithereens three local saloons.
“I’m personally thrilled for the opportunity to experience the Iola square after midnight,” Jones said. “I always had an 11 p.m. curfew back in high school.”
The inaugural event last year drew nearly 400 runners and walkers. A 3-kilometer walk will be held simultaneously with the run.
Organizers hope to draw even more this year, touting once again Melvin’s story, while also highlighting the unusual starting time.

The race holds a special appeal for Jones, a 1992 Marmaton Valley High graduate who now lives in Lawrence.
“I was so excited to learn that not only was there going to be a 5K close to my childhood home, but that it starts after midnight and is attached to a historic event I wasn’t even aware of,” she said.
The race’s unique nature is certain to appeal to more runners than it otherwise would have, Jones predicted.
“It will be an unforgettable experience,” she said.

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