White River Roadrunners brings together people who share a love for fitness through running and walking in Independence County. President Dwayne Dickey sat down with me to talk about the club. Clips of his answers are spread throughout the article as I give you the scoop on the club that’s home to the oldest surviving city in Arkansas.
Dwayne introduces himself.
A group of Batesville runners rallied together in 2000 to revitalize what is presently known as the White River 4-Mile Classic. It could be said that had it not been for their intervention the most popular and oldest four-mile race in Arkansas would have been on the brink of its final run.
First run (as a 10K) in 1979, for 21 years the race shared the name of the annual White River Water Carnival, now in its seventieth year. The name changed a few times after 1999, but nothing changed about how special the race was to the local community.
What attracts people to the club?
Successfully organizing the race was only the beginning for the group. On October 12, 2000, the White River Roadrunners were born. Of the 11 present to officially form the club, five have been president. Two of them have served two terms: Joe Pool, the first president of the club, and Ken McSpadden, race timer extraordinaire.
Another name that was on the list of possibilities for the club was Batesville Hilltoppers. If you’ve ever run a race in Batesville you know why this name would have been more than appropriate.
What are courses like in Batesville?
I like that White River Roadrunners appreciate their club history. President-elect Bruce Oakley went into more depth about the club history in his On The Road column, which I highly recommend. It’s good reading about the club and its members.
The White River 4-Mile Classic may have been responsible for the creation of the club, but it wasn’t long before the club would host more races, get more people involved, and expand its mission. The club boasts a 14-race Challenge Series, including two from the Arkansas Grand Prix Series. If you like trails, they have a hidden gem in the Highrock Hop Trail Runs, a dual event that takes place in March. Two of the newest races in the area are The Bethany Project Melon Dash 5K (August 10) and the Afterglow 5K (September 21). Both happen to take place in the evening.
This year two Grand Prix races take place in Batesville. The 35th White River 4-Mile Classic kicks off the second half of the series on August 3. Last year, 224 finishers braved the heat, humidity, and hills. The second race, held September 7, is the 7th Sara Low Memorial 5K. This will be the “Final Lap for Sara.”
Supporting and putting on races that benefit local charities and entities are a means to give back to the community. Big Brothers Big Sisters, Special Olympics, White River Area Agency on Aging, and the Sara Low Memorial Scholarship Fund are a few causes the club supports with races.
One thing that will remain true about the club regardless of the leadership changes is the commitment to its members will never falter. Finding a successor can be a challenge, but with Bruce Oakley on deck to be the next president, Dwayne can be assured the club is in good hands. I asked Dwayne if he lost a bet to become president or went willingly.
Every club has a niche or something that immediately comes to mind when their name is mentioned. When I profiled the Cabot Country Cruisers I was impressed by their commitment to the community. The White River Roadrunners rich history can’t be overlooked, but it’s the dedication to communication and promoting positive events that I admire most.
If you had to describe your running club in one word, what would it be?