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home : insight & opinion : letters to the editor May 24, 2016

9/12/2013 10:30:00 AM
Duathlon racer enjoyed event, despite the rain


On Saturday, June 1, the Oblong Children's Christian Home sponsored a duathlon (a two-mile run, followed by a 20-mile bike ride, followed by a final two-mile run), and a separate 5K run.

Unfortunately, the first race date in mid-May was canceled due to flooding. With a heavy heart for the victims of the flooding, the race organizers rescheduled for Saturday, June 1. That weekend's weather forecast, though, was not encouraging. More thunderstorms were called for. Rain isn't so bad - it just makes for a miserable race. Lightning, however, is the kiss of doom. It will get a race cancelled for sure.

Friday morning, I called the race organizers from the Oblong Children's Home, who assured me that, barring lightning, the race would go. After considering bailing out, and avoiding a three and one-half hour drive from LaSalle County for nothing, I decided to go for it.

I got to Robinson by 5:30 or so on Friday night. That evening, I watched, to my dismay, tornado and flood warnings on TV. I wondered if I was going to wake up to a Noah's Ark scenario.

I got up early to eat, and saw some nice folks from St. Louis I'd seen the night before who were in the race. We agreed that the race probably should have been cancelled, as it was still pouring rain, with lightning. I saw them again at the race site where it was still raining, and the Hutsonville Park was beginning to flood.

I asked the race director Amy Kemp, "are we going?" The simple and straightforward reply was, "yep." The guy from St. Louis said, "I guess it's game on!" And, miraculously, there was no more lightning. Rain, yes. But no lightning.

We first ran out a mile and back on the start of the bike course. The Hutsonville creek looked like the Mighty Mississippi. It seemed to be within a couple feet of flooding the road. I finished the first two-mile run, grabbed my bike, and started off on the bike trip to Palestine and back. The fast bikers, who were well past me by now, sounded like small jet engines. I was dead last getting on my bike.

The first leg of the trip was mostly straight south, right into the driving wind and rain. At Mile 2, I saw a yellow road sign that simply said, "SLOW." The sign seemed to be mocking me. I took a deep breath and cranked a bit harder.

As I finished the bike ride, it was still raining, but there was still no lightning. There was just two more miles to run. During the last run, I saw one of the girls from St. Louis, running strongly past me towards the finish line. She said, "looking good!" Well, no, I wasn't, at that point. I was drenched and exhausted. Sweet of her to say, though.

On the last run, I actually managed to pass a guy. I stumbled across the finish line, and grabbed a cup of water. I was tired, wet, cramping, and next-to-last. Somehow, I was still a bit proud of myself for finishing a tough race in nasty conditions.

After the race, it was still raining. Amy gave everyone finisher's medals, T-shirts, and goodie bags. And there were randomly drawn prizes. The final totals were 13 runners in the 5K run and 13 runners/bikers in the duathlon. Amy Kemp and the good folks at the Oblong Children's Home, the sheriff's office (for the help in Palestine) and everyone associated with the race worked together to make it a great time.

Andy Boyd


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