On the eve of fall, 188 runners finished the 32nd Arkansas 20K. It was the sixteenth race in the Arkansas Grand Prix Series. After a rainy Friday, the outlook on weather was optimistic. The cool breeze and crisp temperature at the start was a catalyst for speedy times.
Historically this has been a race that many don’t look forward to. It has nothing to do with the race management or organization. The Saline County Striders do a fine job with putting on the race. I think since there aren’t many 20K races around, runners are somewhat perplexed in deciding which gear to run in. In addition, it’s near the end of the Grand Prix season and nagging injuries have become unavoidable.
Nevertheless, runners return. This year the biggest turnout in 16 years seems to have debunked my claim or people complain because they can. It’s probably the latter. You know how runners are.
The race starts and finishes at Benton High School at approximately 7:32 a.m. Like a few courses in the Grand Prix, it’s rewarding in the beginning and punishing at the end. The course has a few challenging spots. There is a slight incline on the access road, but at least it affords you the opportunity to cheer, make faces, or see others before the turnaround or after. ROTC cadets are posted at most intersections stopping and directing traffic along the way.
Imari Dellimore (1:14:07) won his fourth Grand Prix race. He usually makes the trip to Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, which if he wins should secure the male overall title. Mark Ferguson (1:17:45) and Ron Mitchell (1:20:32) finished within roughly three minutes of each other.
Leah Thorvilson (1:17:19) successfully defended her title placing second overall. There is something about her and this race. She has won it five consecutive times with this being her second fastest time. Jennifer Harpel (1:29:09) and Tammy Walther (1:33:14) finished in second and third.
After the race, there was an option to shower before the awards ceremony. That’s always nice to have. Additionally, as hot dogs came off the grill runners were gobbling them up. The Striders have been doing this for a while. They make it look easy.
If you can’t get enough of their enthusiasm and hospitality, the next Strider race is the 6/12/24 Endurance Run on November 29-30. It’s held at Sunset Lake. The 24-Hour run starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and the 12 and 6-Hour runs start on Saturday at 7:30 a.m.
Don’t know how Thanksgiving will affect your running? Don’t worry about it. There will be no DNFs as any distance you cover will be credited. In the event you don’t do enough running on Black Friday, here is a race for you.