Pikeville’s 2021 race season is now underway, as registration is open for the UPike Alumni Association’s Bear the 99 5K race.

The University of Pikeville Alumni Association will host the Bear the 99 5K race on Saturday, March 6. The event begins at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start at 9 a.m. Register online by Feb. 26 to guarantee a T-shirt and finisher medal.

Race organizer Lisa Blackburn, who is also UPike’s director of alumni relations, said in a statement that organizers are excited to begin the race season in Pikeville this year, since 2020’s race was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and safety protocols will be observed during the event, Blackburn said, and face masks will be required at all times while awaiting the start of the race.

“It’s the first scheduled race of the year in Pikeville. Once again, the race will begin on Benefactors Plaza and end with a climb up the 99 steps back to the plaza, using the course designed by Joel Thornbury for the inaugural 5K in 2019,” Blackburn said. “We will be following the guidelines put in place by the City of Pikeville along with the guidelines from Healthy at UPike. We will social distance, require everyone to wear face masks before the race begins and we will be starting racers in smaller groups to keep people from congregating.”

All race proceeds will go toward the UPike Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. In 2019, the 5K raised $18,000, and UPike Alumni Board President Kay Hammond said in a statement that they hope to reach or exceed this goal in 2021.

“With sponsor and community support, we were able to raise funds for much-needed alumni scholarships that helped to change the lives of the students who received them,” Hammond said. “We are very proud that we had over 100 participants at our first race, and we are looking for that support again so we can help even more students with alumni scholarships.”

According to UPike, everyone who pre-registers by the required date will receive a face mask and T-shirt prior to the start of the race, as well as a commemorative finisher medal upon crossing the finish line. Top male and female will be awarded in each age division, as well as overall male and female winners, with these prizes being mailed to all recipients.

Online registration is now open for both in-person and virtual races at, www.runsignup.com/UPIKEBearthe99. For an update list of 2021 alumni events and for more information about UPike’s Bear the 99 5K, email, alumni@upike.edu, or call, (606) 218-5276.

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