There may have been a new race director in charge, a new course record set, but there was nothing new about the Cabot Country Cruisers putting on a stellar event. It was the coldest Spring Fling 5k to date, but it was not a deterrent for the 425 finishers – the largest number ever. Instead of rain this year, there was wind. Some runners were not happy about it.
Runners were able to stay warm and cozy in the Cabot High School Field House before the race. Runners chatted with others and the anticipation of another race filled the air. Would the new season bring with it a personal best? Would the standings in the Grand Prix be shifted at the conclusion of the race?
Wojciech Kopec, wearing his CASC Racers singlet, made his move early and never looked back. It may have been windy or it was Kopec running like the wind. He finished in 15:14, which is a new course record. The next runners to finish, Aaron Batey and Charlie Cox, came in more than a minute behind him. This is Kopec’s third time winning an Arkansas Grand Prix race and second Arkansas Grand Prix course record. He did it two weeks prior at the Chase Race 2-Miler.
The first female finisher, Tia Stone, crossed the mat in 18:47 to bring home another win. Next, was Chase Race female winner Jennifer Harpel and Lauren Campbell, both from Conway. Stone has started off the first quarter with a good showing winning female overall at the Mississippi River Half Marathon in February and fourth female at the Little Rock Marathon. She’ll be running in the next Arkansas Grand Prix race, Capital City Classic 10k, in April.
Saying the Spring Fling 5K is one of the most family-oriented races in the Arkansas Grand Prix is not a shocking statement to make. It’s clear in the number of participants, volunteers, and spectators. It’s a huge reason why runners and their kids participate. Not to be outdone by the adults, the kids had close to 80 participants in the 1k Fun Run. Jamie Oitker had the kids lined up and ready to go.
Don’t we need to warm up first?
Without volunteers no race would be possible, but what happens when you have an abundance of volunteers? The more the merrier, right? Everyone was ready and willing to provide an extra hand, if it was needed. Having the Go! Go! Girls at the aid station provided a boost to morale. On the way to the finish, all runners had to do was follow the sound of Kristen Garrett’s cheerful voice. Thanks to all of the volunteers and Brenda Ransom for a splendid job as volunteer coordinator.
No one will argue the race is a good fit for the Cabot community. The more the race grows, the more the club will be able to donate to the PE4Life Fund. Surely, that brings a smile to the face of Madam President, Annette Blanton. Not only do people in the Cabot community have good things to say, but any runner that has had the Spring Fling 5k experience will support my praise for the race.
Hank McLaughlin shares his thoughts about the race.
After the race, it was back to the Field House to warm up. Another treat for being at the Spring Fling 5k are the homemade treats the Cruisers provide. You can’t get enough of this stuff! I can positively say it’s all made with tons of love. The Cruisers don’t know any other way to do it. I’m sure Nathan would say he could not have pulled it off without the club. Kudos to you all!
After the race, I spoke with Kopec. He came from Olsztynek, Poland, to run at Harding University. He graduated last year and has been making his presence known ever since. He’s had top 5 finishes in his last four marathons (Little Rock Marathon – 5th , Mercedes Marathon – 3rd, Mississippi River Marathon – 1st, and Rocket City Marathon – 3rd). He won’t be at the Capital City Classic 10k in April because he’ll be running in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. Run like the wind, Kopec! Oh, he already did that. Well, do it again!
Post Race Interview with Wojciech Kopec (please forgive the sound, it was windy)