"I'm excited by someone taking on that pioneer spirit," he said.
Though the half-marathon is what these three kindred spirits hope will build the event, the community aspect should not be undervalued. The local YMCA is the event's organizer, but Eastern Shore Endurance Events — formed by Paris and Kerrigan — will manage the festival.
A portion of the proceeds will go to the YMCA and more than a dozen other local nonprofits, but Kerrigan said "we wanted to make it very clear from the beginning that we are not a not-for-profit. It's a win-win for everybody.
"If you're successful, the charities will receive some funds, the business community … will hopefully have thousands of people spending the weekend here and for Peter, Sparrow and myself, we'll have a little company that we can take to the next level."
As much as those like Hoyal — who can run a half-marathon (a little more than 13 miles) in 70 minutes — will add legitimacy to the event, Paris and his partners are just as excited about a local woman in her 70s who plans to walk the half-marathon during the 31/2 hours that the course will be opened.
"We're trying to promote community health and wellness," Paris said. "We have a 5K that's being offered as a run and a walk. We're really trying to hit the bookends here. We think it's important to get parents, families, everyone in the community out there. ... We think there's a healthy balance between being competitive and having fun in sports."
Said Rogers, "It's just a very different approach to athletics to making your community healthy as well."
Of the three, Kerrigan has the most experience in running.
A former high school pitcher outside Boston, Kerrigan played hockey at Ohio State and later turned to running while working on Wall Street for 28 years.
Kerrigan wound up running dozens of marathons, clocking several sub-three-hour marathons and eventually making it to New York and Boston. But he was forced to give up running after having his hips replaced five years ago.
"This is a great opportunity for me to get back into the sport," said Kerrigan, now 65.
For Rogers, this event strikes an even more personal note. In Croatia on vacation in 2004, the then-27-year-old was hit by a drunken driver, breaking her left leg in more than a dozen places. Doctors there considered amputation, but after extensive knee reconstruction and rehabilitation, Rogers celebrated the first anniversary of the accident by climbing a flight of stairs.
Told then "that I would never walk or run again," Rogers is now an avid runner herself. Calling herself a "serial entrepreneur who bought and sold three companies," Rogers moved here three years ago and recently got married. The running festival is not her latest business venture but an event that helps in her recovery from the horrific accident.
"I'm a recovering athlete," said Rogers, who grew up playing all sports in Wasilla, Alaska. "I never took it seriously because I thought I could do it forever. Now I cherish being able to do it."
Paris has become the most serious runner of the three. He got the bug after getting tired of simply being a cheerleader for his wife when she ran a variety of races in the region. Paris went out to run the 10K course. On Saturday, Paris planned to run his first half-marathon on nearby Kent Island.
Paris and Kerrigan have spent a good part of the spring going to other races in the area, handing out fliers and talking up their event. They know there are skeptics, particularly in the running community, who will wait to see how the first year goes before committing.
"A lot of people won't run a first-year event. They want to make sure it's run properly," Kerrigan said.
If the St. Michaels Running Festival becomes what they envision it will, Kerrigan said "we want to transition this into bigger events," including full marathons, ironman (and woman) competitions that "involve major corporate sponsors and branding."
Which is where their adopted hometown comes in. Rogers said what attracted her here from Washington and New York was people like Kerrigan and Paris.
"What you have here is a very inspiring group who have moved mountains, and at varying stages could have retired, but we missed building something," Rogers said. "So we sort of found each other. We have this chemistry. All of us wanted build something new. It was not just a business plan, it was a business purpose to transform communities. We want to help individuals get excited, and feel empowered and start changing something."
St. Michaels Running Festival
When: May 19, starts with 10K at 8 a.m., half-marathon at 8:30 a.m., 5K at 9 a.m.
Where: Starts at St. Michaels High School, 200 Seymour Ave., St. Michaels
What: Certified half-marathon, 10K, 5K fun run/walk
Cost: $75 for half-marathon, $40 for 10K, $35 for 5K
Registration: Online at email@example.com or runningintheusa.com. Registration and packet pickup on-site at The Big Pickle, May 17, noon-6 p.m. and May 18 noon-5 p.m., or at the high school gymnasium May 18 at 6 p.m.