Participants are racing to register for the WVU Medicine Thirteener (13er) half marathon, a major highlight of Morgantown’s upcoming marathon weekend. The starting gun for the WVU Medicine 13er fires Sunday, Sept. 20, the same morning as the inaugural Morgantown Marathon: 26.2 Almost Heavenly Miles.

The events cap a wellness-themed weekend, the brainchild of Jamie Summerlin, a Burnsville, W.Va., native and Marine Corps veteran who gained national prominence for his run across America in 2012.

“The inaugural WVU Medicine 13er will not only promote health and wellness in our community, but also showcase the beauty of West Virginia to the regional, national and international runners coming here to participate in the weekend's activities,” Summerlin said. “Our committee is extremely grateful for this partnership, as the proceeds will support Operation Welcome Home here in Morgantown, allowing them to continue to serve our West Virginia veterans who have served us so bravely.”

Saturday events include the Inaugural Mile and a Mountain Mama 8K, both starting at the WVU Coliseum to kick off the race weekend. After Sunday’s races, runners will enjoy a finish line celebration at the Coliseum.

WVU Medicine employees are eligible for a discount on any of the weekend's races. Use promo code "WVUMED10" to save 10 percent.

As many as 2,000 runners and walkers are expected to take part in the races, with an expected 10,000 attendees at the planned Health and Wellness Expo. Morgantown crowds love their parades – another 10,000 spectators are likely to line the marathon route.

Stepping up as sponsor for the half marathon was a natural fit, according to WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be involved with the WVU Medicine 13er and able to support the marathon. It’s very energizing for the community and fits perfectly with our mission to improve the health of those we serve,” Wright said. “Physical activity is a building block to a healthy lifestyle, and as we increasingly strive to focus our efforts on disease prevention, this is clearly an event WVU Medicine can be excited about.”

Sponsorship of the 13er is not the only presence WVU Medicine will have for the weekend’s activities. Aaron J. Monseau, M.D., WVU Medicine Emergency Medicine physician, will serve as the inaugural marathon’s medical director.

“I am excited,” Dr. Monseau said. “Jamie has done a great job of getting support from the community, and we hope it will be a great event. I will be doing my part to make sure it is a safe experience for all the runners.”

The WVU Medicine 13er course spans a large portion of Morgantown’s pedestrian-friendly Suncrest neighborhood and Star City, with lots of room for spectators and plenty of hydration along the way.

WVU Medicine 13er runners will be able to tweet, post and share their excitement using the hashtag #WVUMed13. To learn more about the Get Fit West Virginia Initiative and register for races, visit www.morgantownmarathon.com.