It could be called the race that wouldn’t quit. Twice during its two-decade history the Frostbite Half-Marathon was officially cancelled, but a group of diehard local runners ran the course anyway to keep the spirit alive.
The first race was held in 1984 with C.T. Carley as organizing director and Jack Mahurin the winner with a time of 1:14:03. It wasn’t held in 1988 when a suitable course could not be found and again in 2000 when no director stepped in to fill the shoes of Rick Coughlan, who took over from Carley.
The Frostbite sprang from informal meetings of the Boardtown Roadrunners, who met each Friday after work at the Bulldog Deli.
“We met for beer and to talk about running,” Carley recalls. “There was nothing like the half-marathon around here and someone suggested a race in January because only dedicated runners would be in shape at that time of year.”
Carley, who began running when he returned to Starkville from graduate school in the early 1960s, had the ideal racecourse on Highway 389 where he ran every Sunday morning. There wasn’t much traffic on the route in those days. He says he was into marathons pretty good and liked the New Orleans marathon because it was point-to-point instead of a loop as most marathons are.
“That first year of the Frostbite, we used church buses to drive the runners out to Pheba on Highway 389 where they were dropped off,” he said. “They ran the 13.1-miles back to the fire station on the edge of town.”
He chaired the race for 10 years and was pleased to watch it grow. Since 2001, Cindy Orrick of the Oktibbeha County Hospital’s Healthplex has been the third director. Along with entrants from the Starkville area, runners come from all over Mississippi and several other states.
Carley, now 72 and retired from Mississippi State University, spoke to the MBJ a few days before this year’s Frostbite and was planning to run along with his youngest daughter. “I’m still running but slower,” he said. “I hope my daughter will be ahead of me.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.