KEMAH, TEXAS (September 6, 2016) -- One United States Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, two Guinness World Records holders and five defending RRCA Southern Region 10K champions will lead a field of approximately 2,100 runners across the start line of the ninth annual Toughest 10K Kemah here on Sunday, September 18, 2016.
The race, which doubles as the Road Runners Club of America's Southern Region 10K championship for the second straight year, will start from and finish at the world famous Kemah Boardwalk and kickoff the sixth annual Texas Bridge Series.
Two-thirds of the Toughest 10K Kemah field -- 1,400 runners, to be exact -- will endeavor to finish all three races of the popular race series, which includes the sixth annual Toughest 10K Galveston on Saturday, October 15, 2016 and the seventh annual La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon on Sunday, November 20, 2016.
A year ago, 995 runners and walkers completed all three races in the Series' fifth year, surpassing the former record of 846 set in 2014.
Former Texas A&M Aggie Ryan Miller, 24, who qualified for this year's 2016 United States Olympic Marathon Trials in Los Angeles, is considered the race's early favorite, but will be pushed by a couple of Guinness World Records holders with impeccable running credentials.
Katy's Calum Neff, 32, the former Houston Cougar who out-raced two-time defending Toughest 10K Kemah winner Ryan Smith of Kingwood to the Toughest 10K Galveston finish line by five seconds last October, will join fellow Guinness World Records holder Ronnie Delzer, 35, of The Woodlands on the start line.
Neff won the Katy Half Marathon on February 6, 2016 in 1:11:27, but he set the Guinness World Records mark for a half marathon pushing a stroller by more than two minutes with his then almost-one-year-old daughter Holland along for the ride.
Just slightly more than two weeks ago, Delzer, a North Carolina native who ran collegiately for East Carolina and has a 14:15:53 100-mile PR (Rocky Raccoon, 2015) to his credit, broke the Guinness World Records for the greatest distance run on a treadmill in 12hours by running 89.56 miles, slightly more than three miles more than the former record, on Saturday, August 20, 2016 at Luke's Locker in The Woodlands.
Five of last year's eight RRCA Southern Region 10K champions are slated to return to defend their titles at press time.
They include masters winners Luis Armenteros and Vicki Melnick, both from Houston, grandmasters winners Tom Barbee from Kingwood and Lynn Malloy from Katy and one of the top senior grandmasters women in the world, Houston's Sabra Harvey.
Twelve runners will split $1,000 in total prize money. Race winners and runners-up will take home $150 and $100, respectively. Third place overall and first place masters finishers will all win $75 each while the grandmasters and senior grandmasters winners will earn $50 apiece.
All age-group winners with a Running Alliance Sport (RAS) member account will have 250 RAS Perk Points - worth approximately $17.50 in discounts toward future RAS races - added to their account. Second-place and third-place division finishers will see 200 and 150 Perk Points, respectively, added to theirs.
The Toughest 10K Kemah, where runners do four passes of the Kemah-Seabrook Bridge, which includes two north-to-south grades of 4.3 percent and a pair of south-to-north climbs of five percent, was created in 2008 by Running Alliance Sport founder Robby Sabban as a charity event after Hurricane Ike ravaged the Kemah Boardwalk.
RRCA South Texas state representative Lee Greb is expected to be in attendance to present the winners their Southern Region championship medals.
The proceeds from the Toughest 10K Kemah – and the entire Texas Bridge Series -- go directly to The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Inc., a Pasadena, Texas organization whose mission is to offer support, provide safety, and prevent domestic and sexual violence.
Since 2011, through its five races, including the Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay, the Baytown Bud Heat Wave and the three Texas Bridge Series events, Running Alliance Sport donated more than $515, 000 to local charities.
For more information about Running Alliance Sport and the upcoming races of the Texas Bridge Series, please visit www.runningalliancesport.org.
About Running Alliance Sport
Based out of the greater Bay Area Houston area, Running Alliance Sport (RAS) is a not-for-profit event production company that has a passion for producing quality running events which in turn support local communities and its charities. RAS successfully works with city governments in Seabrook, Kemah, La Porte, Baytown, Galveston and Tiki Island to produce five races annually from March to November that engages nearly 500 volunteers, sends over 7,500 runners and walkers across finish lines annually and donated over $100,000 to local charities in 2015.