On Saturday, March 10, more than 50 runners, walkers and bicyclists participated in the second annual Racing for Daylight Ultra Endurance Event that took place in the Waynesville City Park. Beginning at 6 p.m. that evening, athletes embarked on an 8-hour journey to keep moving until the race ended at 1:59 a.m. (just one minute shy of Daylight Savings Time and 3:00 a.m.).
Runners from all over the state traveled to take part in this free event that was started based on a need. In 2017, several area ultra-runners (runners who run farther than a 26.2 marathon distance – usually 50k, 50 miles or 100 miles) were training for a 100 mile race and didn’t want to do their longest night training run alone – they needed fellow runners to make it fun. So they got together and decided to, with the help of some sponsors, host a “training run” for free. They reportedly had so much fun doing it that they decided to do it every year! And reported that the 2018 even had more than double the participants from the previous year.
And if you think the race was only for those people who could survive 479 minutes of grueling exercise, think again. People of all ages and abilities were encouraged to attend and do as little or as much as they wanted. “This really added to the excitement of it all, “said race director, Melissa Martinez. “There were new faces coming and going throughout the event. And because of the set-up of the park, the 3.5 mile loop we used could be modified to a shorter distance to accommodate those using strollers and wheelchairs as well as younger children who were only able to complete a portion of it. There were families that stayed for 30 minutes and people who stayed for 1-6 hours. It truly was a family event and we were blessed to be a part of it and are grateful for a community that supports the health and wellness of its’ residents. The goal of the F.R.O.G. Fitness Group has always been to help improve the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of our community, giving all glory to God for our pursuits. And we believe this race embodied that spirit - as well as provided an opportunity to bring visitors to our town for an evening of fun. God willing, we will be doing this again in 2019 and expect another record turnout.”
And thanks to Walker Real Estate, Lone Oak Printing, Kroger and Westside Baptist Church, there was ample food for the athletes (picture grill cheese sandwiches, M&M’s, soup and donuts!) and even complimentary medals that were given out to everyone. And while not everyone who began the race finished it, everyone reported having a great time and look forward to doing it again.