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WOOD RIVER - The Alton Road Runners Club will once again sponsor its annual Track Series, and it's set to start on Thursday, and continue every Thursday at East Alton-Wood River Memorial Stadium for the month of June, and is designed for the entire family.

Registration starts at 6 p.m. every Thursday at the stadium, with events beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meets are designed for all ages, with nominal fees for registration.

"It's for everybody," said long-time Road Runners president Russ Colona, who's also the head cross country and track coach at EAWR. "Six-and-under, 80-and-over. We have a little bit of everything out there. It's fun evening."

Each of the running events are divided over the four weeks, and also has weekly races for runners of all abilities and distances, ending up with a relay race. The meets usually end before 8 p.m.

"It's an event for everybody," Colona said. "We don't do a whole track meet, because that would take hours. We've got something for sprinters, we've got something for distance runners. We always finish up with a little relay at the end that everyone participates in and has a good time."

The competition is divided into age groups, with six-and-under, seven-10-year-olds, all the way up to 50-and-over In the case of the younger age groups, it's a way to introduce the sport of track and field to them, with races from 50 meters to 400 meters, plus the long jump and softball throw every week.

Participants who are 14-and-under will pay $4 for each session, while those 15-and-over pay $5 per session, or $12 or $15 for the entire four week series, with a special family rate of $40 for all four weeks.

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"We have a lot of families who take advantage of that,' Colona said.. "They're there every week, they win a ribbon, and we'll have a special little prize for all the kids in the last one Just show them some appreciation for coming out, And they have a good time out there."

A good thing about the meets is that the same families come out every year to participate and enjoy a good time together.

"We have the same families coming out every year," Colona said. "It's almost like a family reunion out there when we do our first summer series. Everyone comes out and say 'hi, how are you doing?,' and the kids are getting bigger. I've been doing this long enough now, some of the moms and dads have been in the series when I was running, and I say 'yeah, I remember you too," he said with a hearty laugh.

Once the kids get started, they're usually all over the track instead of staying in their lane, which produces non-stop hilarity --- and precious memories that'll last a lifetime.

"That's hilarious," Colona said. "With the lines on the track, you say 'hey, stay between the lines.' But they'll start in lane three, go to lane one, and they're all over. It's fun."

The Summer Track Series is just the beginning of the summer season for the Road Runners. The 27th annual Road Runners Family Run takes place on Saturday at Belk Park in Wood River, a family fun run/walk event. Registration is $5 for those 14-and-under, and $10 for runners 15-and-over, and will be taken from 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m., with the race starting at 9 a.m.

The 43rd edition of the Hit-N-Run Pee-Wee Race takes place Jul. 14 at Gordon Moore Park, and is one of the oldest kids races of its kind in the nation Runners will be provided with free drinks, and a goody bag at the end, along with a race T-shirt.

Finally, the 26th annual Dash-n-Glow meet takes place Aug. 3 at EAWR Memorial Stadium. with the first race starting at 6 p.m. There will be a quarter mile run for those six-and-under, a half-mile run for seven-to-14, and a mile run for 15-and-over. Free hot dogs and drinks are provided, and glow sticks and face painting will also be available.

For more information on each event, place log on to the Alton Road Runners Club website, roadrunner.

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