Over 250 runners gathered at Batesville High school for the seventh and final Sara Low Memorial 5K held on Saturday, September 7, 2013. It was a beautiful day similar to last year’s race. The temperature was about the same. The challenging course yields few PRs, if any, however that’s not generally a concern for those participating.
Supporting the race is a way to honor Sara’s legacy by running, walking, cheering, and volunteering. Team RWB, representing central Arkansas, wore shirts and carried flags symbolizing solidarity, strength, and patriotic imagery. The Sara Low Memorial 5K is one of those races that can be described, but taking part in it is the only way to truly understand the essence of it.
The community is the reason this event is special. The flag hanging from the ladder of a fire truck dangled next to the start banner. After an emotional ceremony that included prayer, the national anthem, and remarks from family and friends, runners and walkers began the Sara Low Memorial 5K for the last time. I hurried down the hill to intersect the runners around the one-mile mark.
The race alternated as a Grand Prix race every year since 2008. It was to remain a permanent race after the Tyler Curtis Memorial 5K ended in 2011. With this being the last run, a void that will surely be filled has been created in the Grand Prix.
It’s a bittersweet ending. The finality that comes with the race also opens the door for another to join the ranks of the Grand Prix. Within the last two years, two memorial races have ended. The other was the aforementioned Tyler Curtis Memorial 5K, which ended after its tenth year.
David Meroney joined me at the bottom of the hill to take pictures. It wasn’t long before we saw runners making their way back to the finish. Uh-oh! David probably scoffed at the ascent as he recently tackled Pikes Peak. My thoughts and remarks were more colorful, to say the least. The three-mile marker is passed right before entering the high school track.
I took a shortcut as I tried to make it to see the first runners finish. With the band creating a joyful ambience, runners filed in making their final sprints to the finish. I had the pleasure of announcing them as they finished. I always enjoy that. And, I did make it to see everyone finish.
Sara’s father, Mike Low, was on hand to accept the start banner, which had been signed by those in attendance. Jacob Wells and Jaynie Cannon were recognized as being the only people to have completed every race. It may have been the last race, but we’ll continue to run with Sara in our hearts and mind. Mike announced the airing of the History Channel’s online series Remembering 9/11, which tells of special wings that travelled from Arkansas to Afghanistan before being placed in the National September 11 Museum.
Clan Weatherford of Mount Pleasant was first 18:04. When he’s not winning races he’s not far behind as the first Masters runner. If you dare run races around Izard or Independence County, you’ll probably seem him speeding by. Jeffery Zern of Little Rock was second in 18:52 and Chris Goins of Sheridan was third in 19:00.
Kristen Treadway of Batesville bettered her time from last year by 14 seconds to win in 19:39. Natalie Ragsdale of Pangburn knocked off over a minute from her time last year to place second in 21:33. Bethany Mooney of Sherwood was third in 21:40.
Kristen has already clinched the female overall title for the 2013 White River Roadrunners Challenge Series. She has been defending wins dating back to 2011. Among those are Sara Low Memorial 5K (2011-13), 1040 Tax Run (2011-13), and Band on the Run 5K (2012-13). Like Clan, she’s someone you have to watch out for when you’re in the area.
Led by Chris Goins, Melonvine Striders put more pressure on Little Rock Roadrunners Club (LRRC) for the team title in the Grand Prix. They had five members finish before LRRC had their first.
Western Arkansas Runners took the top spot securing their place in the top three. The question is where will they end at the conclusion of the season? Of the five races remaining, two are in their part of the state. They will have a strong showing, without question. With the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival falling on the same day as the Arkansas Traveller 100, how many of the Arkansas Ultra Running Association’s runners will be there instead of in Fayetteville?
The Grand Prix action continues with the Arkansas 20K in Benton on September 21. The following two weeks northwest Arkansas will host Chile Pepper XC 10K on October 5 and Survivors’ Challenge on October 19.