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2nd Annual Hoptown Half & 5K to Benefit Challenge House, honor memory of late Wally Bryan

The challenge of a local half marathon and 5K road race will take on a new meaning in 2020.

The Planters Bank Half Marathon and Jennie Stuart Health Hoptown 5K, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19 in downtown Hopkinsville, Kentucky, announced Friday it has selected Challenge House Movement — founded by the late Wally Bryan — as this year’s charitable beneficiary.

Last year’s inaugural Hoptown Half Marathon & 5K, which drew 632 participants from 16 states, ultimately led to a donation of $14,131 to the United Way of the Pennyrile.

Race organizers are hoping for over 1,000 participants overall this year.

“The Challenge House Movement is very pleased to be named the beneficiary of the 2020 Hoptown Half Marathon & 5K,” said interim Challenge House Executive Director Michelle Wilson. “The donation received from this event will help us realize the dream of our founder, Wally Bryan, to build a seventh Challenge House, to be located in the eastside of town around the 1st Street area of Hopkinsville.

“Wally started the first Challenge House in 2007 at 1001 Central Avenue, officially calling it Challenge House #1,” she continued. “Since then, our Challenge House Neighborhood Ambassadors have worked hard to love, listen and learn from their neighbors of the inner-city.”

Bryan, who also served two terms as Hopkinsville mayor, died suddenly May 14. His family believes this partnership between the Hoptown Half & 5K and Challenge House would make Wally beam with pride.

“We are especially honored that this year’s Hoptown Half Marathon & 5K has chosen to honor the life of our father, and that half the proceeds are being donated to Challenge House, which was so close to his heart,” said Will Bryan, son of Wally Bryan, on behalf of the Bryan Family. “Dad always had a heart for Hopkinsville, and especially for those whom he referred to as ‘the least of these’ — the ones who were at a disadvantage because of their circumstances.

“It was his mission to do his part to ensure that all people, regardless of skin color, sex, or economic status, had an equal chance at a productive, successful and happy life. Although he is widely regarded as one of Hopkinsville’s greatest mayors, I believe he will be remembered by most as one of Hopkinsville’s humble servants, who spent his life helping others through his personal time and through his part in the creation of Challenge House, Jobs for Life, The Boys and Girls Club, Hopkinsville YMCA and Coffee Connection.”

In addition to the traditional half-marathon (13.1 miles) and 5K (3.1 miles) offerings, this year’s race day will also make available a one-mile “Wally’s Walkers” division, inspired by the late mayor’s involvement in and support of a similar event during the annual Pennyrile Senior Games.

“We had a slew of deserving finalists among the charitable beneficiaries our committee considered, but ultimately felt in our collective heart that choosing a champion like Challenge House, while simultaneously getting the chance to honor the memory of a community stalwart like Wally Bryan, was the best choice this year,” said Hopkinsville Parks & Recreation Superintendent Tab Brockman. “We look forward to working with both Challenge House and the Bryan Family to raise awareness for Wally’s vision and make this event as successful as possible.”

Registration prices for the Planters Bank Hoptown Half Marathon and Jennie Stuart Health Hoptown 5K — currently set, respectively, at $69 and $35 — will experience increases on July 1, Sept. 1 and Sept. 18, giving participants the chance to save money the earlier they commit at www.HoptownHalf.com.

Final details and prices for the aforementioned one-mile option will be announced soon. Donations in memory of Wally Bryan can also be made to the cause without walking and/or running being necessary.

Like last year, the Hoptown Half & 5K Weekend festivities will kick off with a pre-race expo, open to the general public, at Planters Bank-Jennie Stuart Health Sportsplex Hopkinsville. Scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18, the Expo will give participants the opportunity to pick up race packets and race shirts in advance.

The 2020 Hoptown Half & 5K will observe social distancing at the start line and during other correlating activities and gatherings. For those unable to attend in-person, the virtual race option is also available. Participants can run 13.1 miles or 3.1 miles on their own time and at their own location, but still receive race bib, shirt and medal.

Continue to visit HoptownHalf.com and follow @HoptownHalf on social media for more information on all options. Hoptown Half & 5K race shirts, hats and award-winning sticker decals from 2019 remain on sale at the Hopkinsville Parks and Recreation office, located at 2600 Thomas Street. Call 270-887-4290 for more information.