As I was wandering around the Heifer International parking lot before the start of the annual Riverfest Rock-N-Stroll 5K, race organizer Katie Eisenhower appeared with a guitar in her hand. It wasn’t a prop and it wasn’t just any guitar; this guitar had a scrawled black signature on the body. Each year, one of Riverfest’s main acts signs a guitar that is given away by drawing from the entrants in the 5K. Runners can purchase extra entries to increase their chances of winning. I purchased one extra entry despite having no idea which act might sign the guitar. As I approached Katie I could see that the scrawl was a single name; Sheryl Crow. Oh how I wanted that guitar to add to our baseball bat signed by the entire Dave Mathews Band. I don’t own a lot of rock and roll memorabilia, but I wanted that guitar.
Back at the registration and start area I was checking out some of the great costumes. Napoleon Dynamite (Alexis Lorio) and Pedro (Aspen Reynolds) were on the scene to stump for votes; not votes for Pedro, votes for their friends in the band Grey Society, one of the three bands playing along the out and back course. Runners could use the tear tag from their race number bibs to vote for their favorite band after the race, giving that band the opportunity to play the opening show for Riverfest later in the day. With Napoleon’s mad nun-chuck skills and Pedro’s political savvy on the stump, could Grey Society lose?
I ran under the starting line arch with 316 other runners on World Avenue turning west on 3rd to the first slight incline up the ramp in front of the Post Office to turn onto Capitol Avenue where the first of the three bands, Simon Says Shoot, was playing. A turn north took runners on River Market Avenue to the River Market area where Broke Pretty was playing in the corner that turned the course onto Clinton Avenue taking runners to the Main Street Bridge where Grey Society played the runners into the second small incline of the course. This is also where I got passed by a stroller for the second time. I’m okay with getting passed not only by a lady pushing a stroller, but also by her very small daughter wearing a pink tutu who occasionally stopped to jump in the stroller when she got tired from all that sprinting.
As I started the bridge, front runners James Fransham and Marc Gill were coming at me so I had the chance to yell and cheer at all those faster folks and get a high five from Marc. On the descent and just before turning around for the return journey, Erin Taylor from sponsor Go!Running was there with her always present smile, big cheers and even bigger hugs. Not only were there cheering volunteers and friends lining the course, but volunteer coordinator Teresa Ricketts made sure the course was marked with encouragement in the form of big, colorful chalk drawings. I stopped to take a quick photo of one of my favorites, SUCCESS! Only I failed at success by cutting off the word in my hurry.
Coming back down 3rd street at 3 miles in, runners could see and hear the finish line. I could also hear voices behind me, someone encouraging another runner “come on, you can do this, run strong”. As those voices pass me I could see that it was Amber Edge giving 7 year old Aven Edge the “edge” at the finish. Watching kids run makes me happy, even when they’re passing me and leaving me in their dust.
After all the runners made it to the finish, where many milled about with cold water and hot pizza, it was time to announce the top finishers, the winners of the battle of the bands, the costume contest, the biggest group entry contest, and the guitar. James and Marc fought it out for 1st and 2nd, coming in within 8 seconds of each other with Jeff Grove right behind them for 3rd overall. Thanks Marc, for standing there for 15 minutes so I could get a finish line hug too.
The battle of the bands had to be a tough call, but Grey Society had a lot of people out stumping for them. Drummer Conner Qualls’ mom Elaine asked me to vote for them as we leap frogged each other throughout the run. In the end the stumping worked and Grey Society got to take the stage at Riverfest. The costume contest went to ‘Richard Simmons’, biggest group entry to Humana, and the guitar? Well the guitar did not go to me. You had to be present to win so when the first name called out was not mine, I still had hope. In the end another lucky lady took home the guitar. I stood on the sideline and threw my water bottle at the ground repeatedly, muttered slurred gibberish in place of the expletives in my head and had a tantrum worthy of the Biebs. Maybe not that bad, no law enforcement was involved and I was kind of joking about it even though the disappointment was real. As we headed for the car, the lucky lady with the guitar just happened to be walking along with us. I threatened to trip her and take it. I was just joking. Maybe. I was probably just joking.
Thanks to Race Director Katie and her team of great volunteers for a great race and post-party. Final results are here.