• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Iron Horse guide dies training for race

Sunday's eighth annual Iron Horse Half Marathon, which begins and ends in Midway, was supposed to start 15 minutes early this year. The first competitors were supposed to be Matthew Bradford, a Nicholasville native and Marine who was badly injured in an explosion in Iraq in 2007, and fellow Purple Heart winner and Army soldier Augusto Pineiro of Ft. Stewart, Ga. They were scheduled to leave the starting line at 7:45 a.m., with the rest leaving at 8 a.m., according to race organizer Chuck Griffis of John's Run/Walk Shop. None of the other 1,000 competitors would have complained, though - Bradford, who lost both legs and his eyesight in Iraq, would be operating a handcycle, with Pineiro as his guide, Griffis said. Plans changed Tuesday when Griffis said he was told by an official with Operation Enduring Warrior that Pineiro, a long-distance runner who'd be in a handcycle too, was killed Monday while training for the race. Few other details were available as The Sun Went to press. Without his guide, Bradford will not compete in the 13.1-mile race, but Griffis said Bradford's wife will, and Bradford will be asked to fire the starting gun. Most of the other contestants will compete in the traditional mini-marathon, but this year, there'll be a new, shorter event: a 12-kilometer (about 7.4 miles) race. Thanks to modern technology, all will depart at the same time on Brand Street. Some of the proceeds from entry fees will help pay the expenses of the city of Midway, while other donations will be made to the Midway Ministerial Association and the Versailles Police Department's (VPD) Cops For Kids program. In an interview before he learned of Pineiro's death, Griffis was asked why the Iron Horse Half Marathon attracted so many runners from Kentucky and elsewhere. He credited assistance from government officials, the VPD, Woodford County Sheriff's Department and EMS workers, volunteers from the Woodford Humane Society - and the natural beauty of the Midway area. "You might think that runners want to all be out there racing and ... compete, but you would not believe the number of pictures that we get on Facebook and Instagram and all the other social media during and after the race," Griffis said. "And it's all pictures of the scenery, the horses at the fences, the sunrise out on Spring Station Road. It's really the pastoral setting that's one of the big secrets to the success of this race." Griffis said race-day sign-ups will be offered from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. at Midway Christian Church. Runners in the Lexington area are encouraged to pick up their race packets on Saturday at John's Run/Walk Shop in Chevy Chase from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Internet registration runs through Friday evening at www.runsignup.com.

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