Ag Days will feature a new run for kids and a revised route for the adult run that includes a slightly longer course on the Spring Valley trail.

The addition is called the Little Huskers 1k kids fun run. The Spring Valley Area Community Foundation is sponsoring the event, which will be free for children 2 to 12 years of age due to the support of several local businesses.

The foundation is always looking for constructive activities to give back the money that has been donated, said board member Steve Harder. The foundation decided to sponsor this run "to provide kids with an opportunity to participate in an activity that they can look forward to and prepare for every year that promotes physical fitness and, hopefully, healthy lifestyles," he explained.

The run will follow the trail around Willow Park on the outside loop, which measures one kilometer, or 0.62 miles. The race will be timed, but there will be no competitive awards as the objective is for fun.

Each child running will receive a medal and a T-shirt if pre-registered by Aug. 5. The race is set for Saturday, Aug. 17, at 9 a.m. following the adult run, which will also end at Willow Park.

A parent who runs the adult race suggested a youth race last year, but Ag Days race organizer David Phillips told her the suggestion was too close to race day to try for 2012, but he would keep it in mind for 2013. In the meantime, Harder suggested at a board meeting that the foundation consider a youth activity such as this.

Harder, Phillips, Deb Zimmer and Sue Kolling met to work out the details. In trying to come up with a safe course, Phillips mentioned that at some point he had intended moving the adult race to the trail, and when City Administrator Zimmer mentioned that the city's park and recreation bus was available for transportation, the decision was easy to hold both races on the trail.

Harder said that from the foundation standpoint, not only does this allow the foundation to provide another way to invest in its member communities, "the fact that the event will be held along with the adult race on a portion of the city bike trail helps promote use of that resource as well."

Ag Days 6k

The Ag Days run this year will be six kilometers, which is 3.72 miles, rather than the traditional 5k, or 3.1-mile, run. Phillips tried fitting a 5k route onto the city trail, but it was too awkward, so he went with the 6k run this year.

The distance will put the starting line at the end of the trail by the camper parking area and the finish line at Willow Park. Registration and packet pickup will be at Willow Park while the bus will transport runners to the starting line for the 8 a.m. start.

The other aspects of the race will be similar to previous years with age division medals and T-shirts.

A 6k race is unusual, but there are several races of that distance throughout the country. Runners may see it as a bonus for it will give them an automatic personal record (PR) at the new distance, noted Phillips.

"The best part is that runners will get to experience the entire length of the new city trail," said Phillips. The trail crosses Spring Valley Creek three times and goes through a variety of land uses. There are some challenging rolling hills between the creek crossings, but generally it is similar to the older course as far as elevation changes.

This year, there is also a gravel portion as the trail from just before the north gate of the wastewater treatment plant to the crossing underneath Highway 16 isn't finished yet. However, the previous course had a portion on Sample Road, which is also gravel.

Zimmer said the area around the bridge will be filled with concrete so there shouldn't be standing water. Paving of the trail is slated for next year.

When runners cross the last bridge and go under the highway, they will take a right and run around the perimeter of Willow Park to the finish line, which will be near the parking lot. The distance was estimated using a GPS, but will be more accurately measured before race day.

Runners can sign up for either race online or by paper forms available in various locations throughout Spring Valley, including the Tribune building and City Hall. For online registration, go to www.svareafoundation.org for the kids run and www.springvalleychamberofcommerce.com for the Ag Days 6k.