There was no need for me to be superstitious about this being the "Number 13" year for me to participate in the White River Marathon/5K! It turned out to be a wonderful experience for me, and the hundreds of others, who turned out to participate in this outstanding event! The tree/runner logo on the front of the official tee shirt has become iconic, and the fact that the original artwork was done by a friend, (and FBC First Place 4 Health alum, Christy Chaney Dyer) makes me look forward to the ever-changing colors of the shirts provided each year.
On race day, long before sunrise, participants and volunteers start to gather at the Cotter, Arkansas, High School cafeteria to pick up their race packets, have some hot coffee/tea, and select from a variety of "carbo-loading" snacks that are available.
The technology involved in organizing an event of this magnitude has grown each year. This photo shows a participant checking the big screen to be sure that the data entered for their age and event choice, has been correctly recorded.
Race Director, Paul Gigliotti, has done an outstanding job of over-seeing the year-round promotion of this Boston Marathon qualifier, since it was started in 2003, by another FBC First Place 4 Health alum, Laurie Kasinger.
There are several vendors on hand at the registration area to sell items that are of interest to walkers and runners and volunteers. For example, even if one is not participating in the competition, they can still purchase a shirt with the White River Marathon (WRM) logo on it.
The Race Director made several references to the fact that this event could never be as successful as it has been, without the assistance of dozens of volunteers. THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!! The helpfulness of the volunteers is one reason that the WRM continues to draw entries from all across the United States (29 states represented in 2016), including an 80-year-old gentleman from Connecticut! Likewise, the generosity of the major race sponsors, have enabled the WRM to donate thousands of dollars to provide assistance to the village of Katito, Kenya. You can check out the website to view the donation accountability reports, and see that in 2015 alone, $21,000 was raised!
The sun was just peeking above the horizon as we gathered at the checkered flag that marked the starting point. As you can see from the puddle of water, rain had been in the area earlier in the week, but mercifully for all involved, there was no precipitation when the starting whistle blew.
The race is promoted as being "Fast, Flat, and Fun", which is illustrated in this photo. It can also be "family fun", as there are numerous parent/child and sibling/sibling entries---as well as an occasional grandparent/grandchild pair-up!
The fact that it is flat, has even made it suitable for this lady in a wheel chair to participate in the Half Marathon (that's over 13 miles, folks!). A link to her inspiring story is on the White River Marathon website at www.whiterivermarathon.com .
I also gained inspiration from this lady (intentionally blurred out) for her determination to complete the race, even if it meant doing so with the assistance of a rolling walker for balance!
A gigantic inflatable arch, with the unmistakable and welcome "FINISH" sign, funneled returnees to the proper position to read the computer chip, that was attached to their shoe, and thus record the accurate finishing time for each person.
Their finish time was flashed onto the screen, while those manning the official computers, made sure the technology was working correctly.
I am very thankful to have been a part of this group picture that represents the members of the North Central Arkansas Master Naturalists who participated in the 5K. If you look at the WRM website, you will read that the lady wearing the number 868, has a special distinction in this year's results.
The photo backdrop is a good place to show a new feature of the 2016 5K Race---EVERY finisher received a medal---just like in the Marathon and Half-Marathon. I was thankful that by the "skin of my teeth", I was able to get a third-place medal in my age division, as well as the 5K Finisher Medal. I am using this photo as a motivation to do what my FBC First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse is advocating in 1 Timothy 4:15 that says, "Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress." Being diligent in taking care of this "earth suit" that God has provided for me, continues to give me "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia