Not knowing what to expect, I returned to Batesville on the last night before fall. It was actually jacket weather. I couldn’t believe it. This was the fourth time this summer I’ve been to Batesville. It’s something about that place.
As I walked to the start line of the Afterglow 5K, fireworks boomed and a kaleidoscope of colors paraded across the sky. I didn’t know where to go, but I had an idea since groups of people had the glow. Instantly, Willie Hutch’s “The Glow” from The Last Dragon came to mind.
Before me stood over 1,000 people ready for a fun, but challenging race. After all, this was Batesville. I bet the participants were unpleasantly surprised at the difficulty of the course. I could only snicker, as I knew what was to come.
Unlike most themed events, this was timed, thus the reason I refer to it as a race. After timing the Arkansas 20K earlier that day, Ken McSpadden returned home to lend his services. Since there was a crowd, the race utilized a chip start and finish.
I heard about the Afterglow 5K while attending a White River Roadrunners meeting in July. Michael Ferry, a representative from the Batesville Chamber of Commerce, talked about how the race idea came to mind. The hope was to provide free rides for the White River Water Carnival. He was excited about the possibilities of having something new and different to do in Batesville.
Word spread of the race and registrations piled in. I’m not sure what their ballpark number was, however, having 1,314 people signed up had to knock it out of the park. Since the carnival became a free community event five years ago and the younger demographic was lacking, the Afterglow 5K was an effort to regain their interest.
They showed up ready to glow! Glow-in-the-dark fingernails, face paint, outfits, costumes, etc. illuminated Riverside Park. Upbeat songs roared through the speakers as many waited to be let loose. Although the race started later than expected, when the people were released, a party on the pavement ensued.
As the swarms of runners scattered in the darkness a magical array of lights created a visual of fireflies scattering in an open field. To add to the fun, glow zones were spread throughout the course. If this were a movie, I would describe it as being brilliantly radiant. Amidst all of this, a race was happening.
Tyler Webb (18:08) was the first to emerge from darkness. He kicked it in once he ran under the balloon arch. Tristen Driver (18:24) wasn’t far behind to finish second. Tyler Bishop (20:30) rounded out the top three.
Logan Bishop (20:33) came in right after her brother as the first female and fourth overall. Andrea Pickens (21:38) and Cherysh Rone (22:03) were the next two female finishers.
The race was a prelude of things to come. Everyone was invited whether they participated in the race or not to The Glow Party at Riverside Park Amphitheater. A black light tent housed the complimentary Rockstar Energy Drinks and everyone was encouraged to sign the glow wall.
The DJ didn’t have to do much because after a few swigs of those energy drinks you’ll feel like a rockstar. Air guitar and dancing contests provided more entertainment. At midnight, a Paint Rave had splatters of paint scattering everywhere. “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Glow Zone! ”
The party was scheduled to go until 2 a.m., but driving back to Little Rock was not going to be fun with little sleep. I’m curious how they’ll up the ante next year and if they will reach capacity of 1,500 people. It will either be “glow big or glow home!”