Every runner has a story

Every runner has a story

The eighth and final race of the Hill Air Force Base Spring Race Series ended May 25 with 100 runners, joggers and walkers crossing the finish line.

Before departing the race course, finishers smiled, caught their breath, and congratulated each other for a job well done.

Race Director Randy Thomas, 309th Component Maintenance Group program manager, has led the race series since its inception here in 2011. He hears stories every week about race participants’ achievements, goals, and successes.

“Every participant out there has their own story of why they do it,” he said. “From the guy who lost 40 pounds over the winter just to be more competitive this season, to the wounded warriors who participate to help stay in shape so they can spend active time with their kids.”

Tech. Sgt. Jaime Sexton, 388th Maintenance Group mobility readiness spares package noncommissioned officer in charge, looks forward to the physical and mental benefits each race provides.

“I race because getting out and getting exercise makes me feel good,” she said. “Also, I try to set a good example for my kids. They came out and ran with me this season and really enjoyed it.”

The series includes a spring season and a fall season, each comprised of eight races, usually 5 kilometers in length. Some courses are flat; others are off-road and hilly.

Participation has grown over the years. This past April, 217 participated in the season’s first race. The season’s weekly average was more than 170, with 40-50 walkers, 10 children, 3-4 baby strollers and 4-5 dogs participating.

The series’ goal is to promote camaraderie and participation. Speedy runners and walkers earn individual and team points, and the number of team participants also earns points. The team with the most participants each season is rewarded with bragging rights and a traveling trophy.

“Fitness activities are more fun and motivating in groups,” said Thomas. “It does not matter if you’re just out there to walk or jog and chat with your friend; your presence motivates others who are out there being competitive.”

Thomas doesn’t do it alone.

The race series wouldn’t survive without the volunteers who make it possible. As a bonus, teams get extra participation points when their members volunteer.

Permanent volunteers include Thomas’ wife, Master Sgt. Michelle Thomas, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, who helps set up and tear down the course each week; she also cheers participants at the finish line. His daughter, Melody, photographs each race and posts the pictures for all to see. Together, the Thomases also compile statistics after each race.

The free race series is open to anyone interested in running, jogging, or walking.

The fall season’s first race is scheduled for Sept. 1 at 4:30 p.m. The rest of the fall season races will be run each succeeding Thursday at 4:30 p.m., with the final race scheduled for Oct. 20. Races are subject to change due to weather. 

For information, contact Randy Thomas via email or telephone, or contact the Warrior Fitness Center at 777-2761.

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