End of the Trail Half-Marathon adds ambassadors

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Local race enters 16th running on Saturday and continues to grow each year

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

VISALIA – The End of the Trail Half-Marathon has been a staple of the running community in and around Tulare County for 16 years, but this year the race is adding something new to try to promote the race, ambassadors.

Participants are all seasoned competitors in a variety of races. When they become ambassadors, they wear shirts to promote the End of the Trial, and get really active on social media. This year the race has 12 of these special runners. Ambassadors are from Tulare County and farther out. Some are coming from as far as Clovis, Bakersfield and Los Angeles.

“That is a lot for a smaller race,” race director Michael Young said. “They will help represent the run in a lot of areas up and down the state.”

Promotion might be a big part of what these ambassadors do, but they are also competing to inspire. Each one of the 12 has a special story in order to motivate people who were in the same situation they were to begin participating.

Sam Vang is a nursing student and aspires to be the first among his family to become a nurse practitioner. He made a lifestyle change some time ago, and began running. It has allowed him to go from 230 pounds down to 145 pounds. In August, he competed in his first marathon, and now he wants to compete in marathons in all 50 states.

Melissa Britt started running in 2012, but did not start competing until 2016. It was later discovered she was born with an atrial septal defect. She had surgery in July 2018 to repair it. Her running career has including competing in over 50 races.

Tara Cucullu is the most seasoned runner of the ambassadors. She has been running for over 22 years and has competed in 10 marathons including the Boston Marathon in 2015. This will be the 50th half-marathon of her career.

The End of the Trail Half-Marathon will take place on Saturday, Feb. 23. The half marathon will begin at 7 a.m. and is $85 with a $5.10 signup fee. A 10K race will begin at 7:15 a.m. for $60 and $3.60 signup fee. 

According to Young, the race was born of humble beginnings by a group of people who just loved running has grown by 200 to 250 runners a year. 

The half-marathon course will take runners through downtown to Mooney Grove Park and back. The Ridgeview High School drumline, Golden West’s band, and DJ Azmatic headline the entertainment along the course.

“The whole point is to make it fun for the runners,” Young said. “We want people to come back.”

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