Arkansas Outside Contributor, Nicholas Norfolk, gets a little air...and some air guitar.

Kindred Soles

This race has a hay ride. Runners are transported to the start line the old fashioned way.
This race has a hay ride. Runners are transported to the start line the old fashioned way.

December temperatures in Arkansas have been mild so it was no surprise that this past Saturday, despite the overnight rain, early fog and light drizzle as we pulled away from the house, it was setting up to be a warm morning for a trail run. Last year we had to scrape the ice off the windshield as we were preparing to drive to this race.  This year, many runners were shedding layers getting down to shorts and short sleeves before the start.

We got just about everyone in this video…enjoy.

Last year we weren’t sure what we were getting in to with Arkansas Outside yet either and we didn’t know a single person at the run when we arrived. This year, before we even made it to the park, while still driving on I-40 we started seeing friends. Upon arrival we found friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, spouses of friends, no shortage of people to talk to. How did this happen? The easy answer is that sharing the love we have for running, trails, bikes, swimming and all that outdoor stuff that makes us happy, forges friendships. By participating in and writing stories about the sports we love, like trail running, we have found our kindred soles, fellow dirt lovers.

Her come the front runners.
Here come the front runners.

Ready-GO!  And the runners were off! Down the pavement and on to the soft dirt trail they ran, the air filled with the rhythmic sound of shoes hitting the ground, along with the sound of a cowbell being rung by an enthusiastic cheerleader. This year’s field was larger than last year and the pack didn’t thin out much until everyone was on the dirt. For me, the first mile passed by much faster than I thought it would. The previous night’s rain was only evident in patches, where runners could feel like a pig on ice if they weren’t careful with their footing. While the temperature had climbed into the mid 60s, the sky was still an overcast gray until almost 30 minutes into the race when the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds here and there.

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Race Director, Micheal Witt, gets his run in.
Race Director, Micheal Witt, gets his run in.

As we came to the long gradual hill that signals the end of mile three and the beginning of the end, I looked for the phenomenon that I noticed the year before with the sun glittering on the big rock face at the top but alas, the sun wasn’t even strong enough for a glimmer. The final mile is relatively flat with a feeling of a gradual downhill slope. There was another runner close to me when we heard what we thought was the sound of cheering at the finish line but it turned out to be the cowbell ringing cheerleader, our mountain biking friend CHAD CRAGLE! cheering on his fiancee Faith, who was running just ahead of us toward the actual finish line which was just a little bit farther. It’s so nice to have someone out on the course cheering everyone on and it’s even better when it’s someone you know, a kindred soul.

Arkansas Outside Contributor, Nicholas Norfolk, gets a little air...and some air guitar.
Arkansas Outside Contributor, Nicholas Norfolk, gets a little air…and some air guitar.

The race also holds the title for the best swag. This year, another Christmas ornament (now hanging in an honored place on our tree), beer glasses and running log books for the various winners and a really nice running shirt for all. The volunteers had a choice of chili or potato soup for the finishers plus some homemade cookies. The support for the race is tremendous and I look forward to it continuing to grow in the coming years.

The sun trying to get in on the fun.
The sun trying to get in on the fun.

Overall Results

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We agree, two thumbs up for this run.
We agree, two thumbs up for this run.

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