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Running is often celebrated for its sublime simplicity. All you need is a pair of shoes and a lung.

That's easy to forget when a runner's world is awash in GPS devices, those things Nike makes to link your stride to your iPod and chip-timed 10K's. Want to return to the halcyon days before you knew that your favorite route was 200 meters shorter than you thought (and you are therefore slower than you thought)?

Mark your calendar for next year's Union Founder's Day 10K.

Who needs chip timing with fewer than 200 runners? Course volunteers do call out times -- but they don't correspond to any mile markers.

Needless to say, this race has not attracted sponsors, or goody bags filled with crap products.

What Union does have is one of the hilliest courses around. Mile four will make you want your mommy, and it doesn't end there.

When you cross the finish, you get an index card with a number on it. Walk over to the results board and you'll see your time handwritten next to that number.

If you placed in your age group, your name will go up on the leaderboard. The timing crew has no computer to help satisfy that urge to compare yourself to everyone in your age group or gender.

Instead, while you wait around for the awards ceremony, you can wander the courthouse square. Check out the FFA petting zoo, or enter a raffle for a canoe or a quilt.

Union as a runner's Mayberry might not last. One of the organizers says people have been asking her to post past and present results online. And they have discovered the addictive course-mapping tool on USA Track and Field's Web site.

Let's just hope they don't spring to have the course certified. One of the best things about the Founder's Day 10K is the old-timey price: $12. And no doubt that most of it does benefit the high school band.

-Kathleen McLaughlin

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