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Are You Ready to Rock?

Sunday's White Rock Marathon looks like it will be bigger. And better: Thanks to the first sponsor -- Wellstone's -- in its 36-year history, the Rock will this year award a record $150,000 in prize money.

Sprinkled around the 26.2-mile course Sunday will be 12,000 runners; 100,000 spectators; 300 police officers; countless discarded cups and tons of memories. Olympic hero Michael Johnson will start the race, and former marathon queen Joan Benoit Samuelson will run it. There's even a pre-game show Saturday night and a live 90-minute coverage show Sunday morning on WFAA-Channel 8. The festivities actually kicked off today when celebs and runners dumped T-shirts, toy Hummers and smiles on the kids at the race's charity of choice, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

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But the best part, race officials haven't been too stubborn to tweak/improve their product.

In light of last year's inaugural Cooper Gender Challenge, in which women runners were given a 20-minute head start, Rock leaders said feedback was 90-percent positive. Shade me in as the other 10 percent. This year the gender gap gets closed a little, with that head start shrunk to around 15 minutes or so. The first runner -- male or female -- to cross the finish line will receive $35,000, so the drama should be real and real exciting.

In unrelated news, anyone else think it was weird/sad that Thursday's Dallas Morning News' sports section front page included an ad at the bottom? Last time I checked this was Dallas, not Des Moines. Even worse, the ad was for hand guns, produced by Smith & Wesson, available at Academy. Weird, I tell ya. --Richie Whitt

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