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Woodbury Country Mile takes a hiatus

Runners dash to the finish line during the 2011 Woodbury Country Mile. Bulletin File Photo

For the past 35 years, runners from across the Twin Cities would block off a weekend morning in August for the Woodbury Country Mile.

But this year, those runners will need to find another late August race. Citing lower participation numbers, organizers this year have decided not to hold the Woodbury race.

Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Tuccitto Warren said competition with the rising number of foot races in the area had forced the chamber to assess the future of the event. The Woodbury Chamber of Commerce has traditionally organized the race, which last year celebrated its 35th year.

"We always enjoyed putting on the Country Mile," she said. "It was a historical race for the Woodbury community. The number of runners we've had in the past few years do not support the cost of organizing the race. We are sad about that, and wished it was not the case."

Tuccitto Warren added that the chamber does not know whether the event would be held in the future.

Competitive races offered in last year's Country Mile included distances of a half marathon, 10k and 5k, plus a kids 1-mile run. The Country Mile was first held in the early 1980s to attract people to Woodbury, which at the time was a new suburb. Gail Boland, a creator of the Country Mile, said she was inspired to develop the race because people knew so little about Woodbury.

"Many people loved the long-sleeve T-shirts," Boland was quoted as saying in a 2011 article in the Bulletin.

While there had been falling participation numbers recently, the race was still well known in the Twin Cities. The Woodbury Country Mile was one of the certified races that counted for the Minnesota Runner of the Year awards, organized by the Minnesota Running Data Center.

Woodbury Running Room employee and runner Bill Petsch said he had not run the Woodbury Country Mile in the past decade. But he recalls a time when it was a destination for runners who wanted a late-summer race.

"Oh yeah, it was really popular," Petsch said.

Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens had been on-hand on a few occasions to hand out medals at the finish line of the Country Mile. She enjoyed having the opportunity to interact with residents of Woodbury.

"For me, I just liked to be out in the community," she said.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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