All uphill from here

The second mile of the Gary Tillman Memorial Clocktower 5K Road Race on Aug. 17, 2019, had runners climbing Clocktower Hill from Fourth Avenue and coming down the other side on Fifth Avenue.

The Tillman Clocktower 5K and Two-Mile Health Walk will still go on this year in person on Nov. 21, with a few different guidelines in place.

According to Tina Bartleson, executive director for the Exchange Club’s Family Resource Center, the 5K is the center’s biggest fundraiser, bringing in over $30,000 last year alone.

To cut down on the potential spread of COVID-19, Bartleson said they are limiting the number of areas people congregate at, such as registration. All participants will have to register in advance; there won’t be any race-day registration. Everyone attending the event is asked to wear a face covering until the race and walk begin.

In addition, the race and walk will have a “wave start,” meaning the participants will be split into groups and start at different times.

According to the race’s cochair Kelly Sanker, they are asking people to include their average 5K times on their registration forms. The groups will be divided based on the average times, with the fastest runners starting first.

Right now, they’re unsure how big these groups will be since they don’t know how many participants they’ll get.

Sanker said they’ve had about 40 people register so far, but they’re hoping the numbers will pick up over the next month.

On Nov. 20, participants can come to the Wilder Center at First United Methodist Church, 202 E. Third Ave., between noon and 6 p.m. to pick up their race packets, which will include their number bib and T-shirt.

On race day, people can park at Heritage Park and walk over to Barron Stadium, where the race will begin.

The route will be the same as previous years, beginning on North Second Avenue in front of Barron Stadium and ending on top of the levee in Heritage Park. The course cuts through downtown Rome and includes a climb up Clocktower Hill in the second mile and a circling of the base of Myrtle Hill in the third mile.

There will be no after-party or awards ceremony following the race. Instead, awards will be announced on either social media or by email. Winners will be contacted by Sanker and Race Director Gail Johnson and told when they can pick up their heavy marble paperweight prize.

Pre-registration for the race and walk will run through Nov. 17. From now until Oct. 24, participants can get an early-bird discount of $25 for the race and $20 for the walk. From Oct. 25 to Nov. 12, registration will be $30 for the race and $25 for the walk. For the last five days before the race, registration will be $35 and $30 for the race and walk.

Participants can sign up at

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