The location for the One Hour Track Run has moved around over the years, but that hasn’t taken away from the importance of the first event in the Grand Prix season. I would say it’s similar to a family reunion, but since I consider runners to be my family, it is a family reunion. You know the feeling you get when you haven’t seen a family member in a while? You wonder how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to. Many of the runners haven’t seen each other since the last Grand Prix race in November. In addition to using the event to catch up, it is also used to set the tone for the season. Teams look to put you on notice while those that didn’t let the winter deter them from running are ready to see results from their training.
It’s one of three races that are participant and spectator friendly. The other two are Valentine’s Day 5k and the Go! Mile. I say that because all of three races are done in heats, which allows for one to cheer for others before or after their race. Furthermore, the One Hour Track is unique because it’s the only timed race in the Grand Prix. I’m sure the race director, Tom Aspel, is appreciative of chip timing. Averaging at about 50 runners per heat, counting the laps for each runner would be challenging. No matter how fast you run, you’re going to run in circles for the same amount of time as everyone else.
This year’s race was held at Danville High School Track. I arrived in time to see the second heat get under way. I later learned a good friend was taken to the emergency room after having heart issues. No worries, she is fine. For those that don’t know about this Princess, she’s tough. I’m relieved that she is okay. I’ve always said runners are a special group. Hearing about those that helped her when she needed it only reiterates my statement.
In an attempt to distract the monotony of looping the track, music was provided for everyone’s listening pleasure. I recognized some of it. Linkin Park, Apocalyptica, 30 Seconds from Mars, and Crossfade were the groups I remember. Watching the end of the race is like watching the runners play freeze-tag with the clock being the person trying to tag them. Once the clock strikes zero, they are frozen until the measuring wheel comes around and calculates the exact distance, thus thawing the runner. Joel Perez gauged his run perfectly stopping right on the timing mat; however, Todd Hink edged him out for the win. Jenny Wilkes took off her AURA singlet, signaling she meant business, to hold off Little Rock Roadrunner Tammy Helmick for the female win.
In the end, Western Arkansas Runners male and female teams finished second and first respectively. The male team representing Melonvine Striders put on a strong showing claiming four of the six overall spots. The Arkansas Ultra Running Association male team is off to a good start placing third. Little Rock Roadrunners were second and the Conway Running Club was third in the female category.