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Posted: April 17, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: Record Breaking Participation Expected at 9th GO! St. Louis® Family Fitness Weekend

Three race champions return; special appearances by Subway's Jared Fogle and U.S. Navy highlight weekend

ST. LOUIS - (April 13, 2009) - GO! St. Louis, a not-for-profit organization that specializes in presenting fitness events and programs for the region on a year-round basis, has announced that overall registrations for the 2009 GO! St. Louis Family Fitness Weekend, set for April 18 & 19 have reached an all-time high. The nine-year fitness event started in 2000 with 2,500 participants and has grown to become a major civic event and the largest competitive fitness event in Missouri. It is also a top race destination for runners and walkers from across the country. An estimated 18,000 participants will compete in one of the ten different events over the weekend. Additionally, more than 30,000 spectators will line the various race courses to support participants.

The GO! St. Louis Family Fitness Weekend is an event that was created for all ages and fitness abilities and features a marathon (26.2 miles), half-marathon (13. 1 miles) - presented by National City, Marathon Relay - presented by Lockton Companies, 5K Run/Walk (3.1 miles) - presented by YMCA of Greater St. Louis, GO! St. Louis Read, Right and Run Marathon® - presented by Centene Corporation, Children's Fun Runs - presented by Subway and a Mature Mile.

"In the nine years, since we started the effort to offer an event that introduces and promotes fitness to thousands of area residents, it is truly remarkable to the degree it has grown," said Nancy Lieberman, GO! St. Louis president. "We pride ourselves on offering a top-quality event that provides excellent participant services and amenities, while displaying the rich history and friendly people this city offers. With hundreds of participants arriving from 47 states and 10 different countries the event is a great showcase of our community, while additionally creating millions of dollars of economic impact for the region."

Event Highlights
* The most popular race is the half-marathon, which will sell out for the first time in the history of the event at 10,000 participants. The 13.1 mile distance was introduced to the event in 2003.

* Participation in the Marathon Relay increased from 265 teams in 2008 to an estimated 356 teams in 2009. Teams are comprised of four members, who each run approximately 6 miles each, to complete a full 26.2 marathon. Categories include corporate, coed and friends and family. Wachovia Securities led the corporate division with 20 teams entered in the 2009 race.

* Subway's official spokesperson Jared Fogle will make a special appearance at the Family Day races in Forest Park on Saturday, April 18 at 8:15am and is the guest speaker at the Pasta Party at 5:30pm that same evening.

* The U.S. Navy will have a large on-site presence with a Naval officer singing the national anthem, the Navy rock band "Freedom" performing outside St. Louis City Hall, members of the elite U.S. Navy Parachute Demonstration Team - "The Leapfrogs" dropping in at the start of the race and interactive demonstrations for the public to enjoy.

* Three of the four champions from last year's races are entered in the 2009 field. Karl Gilpin (marathon) and Mathew Chesang (half-marathon) have won their respective races two straight years and will be looking for a three-peat. Last year's women's half-marathon winner - Kelly (Handel) Williamson from Austin, TX will try to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles.

* Over 80% of the participants are from Missouri or Illinois, but athletes from 47 different states (states NOT represented: Alaska, Rhode Island and Vermont) will visit St. Louis to compete. In addition, athletes from 10 countries (Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Andorra, Bermuda, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Venezuela) are registered in the field.

The marathon race course starts in downtown St. Louis at Market & 13th Street and finishes at Soldier's Memorial at 13th Street & Chestnut. The course includes the Gateway Arch (great view, before turning at Broadway), Busch Stadium, Anheuser Busch Inbev brewery, the Grove Area on Manchester, Forest Park, Washington University, Downtown Clayton, The Loop in U City and Union Station. Area residents are encouraged to come out to show their support by cheering on the participants along the course.

GO! St. Louis has aligned with green partners: Aquafina, AmerenUE, Waste Management and Schlafly to provide a green-friendly event. Recycling, reusing, eliminating carbon footprints and promotion of alternate transportation are all practices in place. Ameren UE's Pure Power program will essentially eliminate the carbon footprint of the two-day health & fitness expo by purchasing wind credits to offset the stress to the environment.

Children from 97 schools will converge on Forest Park to complete the Read, Right & Run Marathon, a six-month program that promotes Reading 26 books, Righting the community with 26 good deeds and Running 26 miles. The program concludes with students running their final miles. Also part of the Read, Right & Run Marathon program will be 6,000 Saint Louis Public School students, who complete the program with special in-school celebrations in May.

Pasta House president Kim Tucci serves as 2009 Honorary Chairman of the event. He will welcome participants before the race and congratulate them at the finish line.

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