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Runners and walkers lined up in droves Tuesday to test themselves against the bitter chill of a morning air splashed by rain, shaking off the effects of drowsiness or debauchery from the previous night’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
A large crowd welcomed 2013 to Elizabethtown on New Year’s Day by putting on their running shoes and hitting the pavement, ushering in Elizabethtown’s inaugural New Year’s Dash 5K Run-Walk, which lined up in front of Kerr Office Group and traveled 3.1 miles down North Main Street, taking in several side streets.
Many participants arrived an hour before the race kicked off. Some dressed in layers and warded off the cold from the comfort of their vehicles while others treated the weather with disinterest, wearing summer running attire as they ran up and down streets and alleys along North Main Street, warming up cold muscles and stretching for the race ahead.
Elizabethtown resident Joe Anderson said running is not his first option, but he enjoys staying active. A fitness enthusiast, Anderson said he loves cycling and swimming and finds something inherently enjoyable about working out with a group.
“It’s a great way to start the New Year,” he said of the dash.
Anderson said the run not only promotes healthy practices and an overall sense of wellness, but can serve as a strong tool for Elizabethtown to draw visitors and raise money.
Anderson said the purpose is to have fun but he had some personal fitness goals in mind he wanted to pursue.
“I’m going to run comfortably fast for my own liking,” he said with a chuckle.
An assortment of colorful costumes and clothing choices dotted the landscape, from neon running shoes to pajama-clad friends. Others were decked out in tuxedoes or disguised their identities with playful masks. The enthusiastic atmosphere kept in stride with Elizabethtown’s request for bold and outrageous costumes, which later were judged in a contest.
Events Coordinator Sarah Vaughn, who accepted tags as runners and walkers crossed the finish line, said she was impressed with the turnout considering the event is unproven and a steady dose of rain fell the night before. Vaughn said roughly 150 had pre-registered but several more signed up Tuesday morning.
“We didn’t really know what the interest or turnout would be,” she said. “(It’s a) first-year event so you never know. I’m really happy about the turnout.”
Dana Hill, a Horse Cave resident, wore bright pink as she tackled the course with her dog, Sadie. Hill learned about the dash online and said she keeps track of local races that are inclusive to dogs.
“I love to run and so does my dog,” she said.
Tuesday’s run was Sadie’s first organized race with others as Hill prepares her for more strenuous marathon training. Hill said running became a passion indirectly.
“When I joined the military and was forced to run, I learned I like to run,” she said.
Arlene Brady and Debby Green are close friends who were reunited through fitness. The two women attended church together at one time and reconnected when they needed walking partners. Brady joked the initial plan was to walk, which led to the training for their first 5K. Once it came time to test themselves, Green suggested they run the course instead.
“We’ve been running ever since,” Brady said. Both women tackled the morning in their pajamas.
The women now try to keep an aggressive pace by running a race each month and said Tuesday’s race would keep them in practice.
“It keeps us training so we’re ready for the next race,” she said.
B.J. Romines challenged the dash with his 13-year-old dog, Judy, which he lightheartedly referred to as the “wild dog.” A recreational runner, Romines said he routinely runs longer distances and Tuesday’s 5K was one of his first at that distance in some time. Despite her advanced years, Judy can keep up with her owner, he said.
“She’ll run five miles with me in the blink of an eye,” he said. “She don’t mind.”
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.