Youth soccer coach who suffered severe burns named torch bearer for Crazy 8s

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KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – A local teacher and youth soccer coach who suffered severe burns earlier this year will be the torch-bearer for this year’s Crazy 8s 8K Run. 

Michael Smelser received third-degree burns in a campfire accident back in March. Smelser, a soccer coach at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City, underwent treatment at a burn center in Augusta, Georgia and required nine surgeries. 

RELATED: Local coach back home between treatments following burn accident

He has participated in every Crazy 8s race and will bear the torch at this year’s race.

Recently-retired Kingsport City Manager Jeff Fleming will also be honored with the 2019 Crazy 8s First Medal. 

Earlier this year, race organizers announced a new “flatter and faster” course for this year’s race. 

SEE ALSO: New Crazy 8s course revealed for 2019

“We felt like we needed to change things up a little bit, the old course has been great, but everyone around here has run it,” said Event Co-Director Hank Brown on Wednesday. “And so we like to keep things interesting and exciting and I just felt like there has got to be a way to get rid of some of these hills.”

The new course eliminates a short but steep hill on Wilcox Drive around the 1.5-mile mark and a long, gradual hill on Ft. Henry Drive near the 3-mile mark. 

The Crazy 8s race, along with Almost Crazy 3K run/walk and Little 8s/Special 8s, will take place Saturday, July 13 from 1 to 8 p.m. Click here for registration and more information. 

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