The flat truck held a long load of lumber down the center of the bed. The lumber in turn, held a group of runners dressed in wicking t-shirts and shorts, prepared for the heat and humidity of an Arkansas July. Many of those runners yelled, cheered, hooted or hollered at me and Ashley as they sped by us, load after load, truck after truck. Why were we not on one of those transports? Because we decided it would be a great idea to use the forty-five minutes we had between picking up our race packets and the official start time, to warm up by jogging from the finish line to the starting line of this point to point race. Perhaps jogging the reverse course of a race that is billed as mostly downhill from start to finish, was not as great an idea as we thought since we were the only ones hoofing it out on the road. Both of us realize we are not fast runners, I less fast than she, but we can run slowly for long distances so a slow 6.2 is better than a fast 3.1 in our book. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
July 26th, 2014 was the twenty-sixth time runners would line up at the top of Iron Mountain on Skyline Drive for the 3.1 mile mostly downhill road run to the finish line at the spillway parking lot on Lake DeGray. This race is popular, and in spite of the guaranteed heat and humidity of late July in Arkansas, more than 700 signed up for the chance to sweat out five kilometers. Some run for the competition, some for the t-shirt, and some, like me, for the company.
Part of the appeal of this race, beyond the fact that no one must rise before dawn to make it to the race venue on time, is the after party. Hot and sweaty runners could intensify the moisture clinging to what little clothing some of them were wearing by taking a shower in the water cannon placed strategically just beyond the finish but within sight of the live band. Sensory 2, an Arkadelphia hometown favorite, took to the stage early in the evening and played on until well after all of the 719 runners and walkers ran, jogged, sprinted, sashayed, or strutted under the finish line arch. Admittedly, Ashley and I took advantage of the water spray while screaming our own version of The Cranberries Zombie along with the band. We also indulged in a little ice cold watermelon thanks to the crew from Patterson Federal Credit Union.
Tips for next year’s run, if you plan to arrive early, claim a coveted spot in the parking lot because tailgating is encouraged. Many running clubs, school groups, and families set up canopies for shade before the sunset which served as meeting places for the groups afterward. Bring a change of clothes; even if you don’t soak yourself in the water cannon, you’re going to be wet. You just ran a 5K, you deserve cold drinks, good music, and dry clothes.