Ladies, take your marks. Make Mine a Million has kicked off early registration for its year-long race challenging women to ramp up business, create jobs and – let’s hope — boost economic conditions. Why should you sign up? “There is no knight in shining armor, no search and rescue helicopter, no government bailout for you and your business,” says race organizer Nell Merlino, in a blast email announcing the competition. “Women entrepreneurs will do what we’ve always done. We will rescue ourselves and our businesses, and in the process we will save our country.” I spoke to Merlino about the race, which will provide training, mentoring and cash prizes to women business owners, in the latest issue of SmallBiz (click here to read the Q&A). Keep checking this blog for updates on the race, which I’ll chronicle throughout 2009. The race, sponsored by Merlino’s nonprofit Count Me In and corporations such as American Express OPEN, AIG and Dell, officially starts Jan. 27.