Friday, May 11, 2012

A Run of Love - The 2012 Run for Kids Challenge

In 2007 I rode in the Ride of Love, a fundraiser for Camp Smile-A-Mile, Alabama's camp for kids with cancer.  The 150 mile ride ends at Children's Harbor (the location of Camp SAM) on Lake Martin, in central Alabama.  Sixty riders rode as a group, escorted by two Tuscaloosa Policemen on motorcycles.  The ride took 12 very long hours.  That is a long time to sit on a bicycle seat.  The ride was tough, but nothing compared to arriving at the camp and seeing all those kids in the midst of a battle for their lives.  Then, when you consider our inconsequential discomfort compared to the suffering every one of these kids and their families have been through, and you know a few will not be there next year, that hurts.

I have not been able to do the ride again, (we raised over $98,000 in 2007, and in 2010 the ride raised $182,000) so I decided to do something else to help.  In 2011 we held the first Run for Kids Challenge.  The run was small, with 32 finishers in the 50K and 12 hours but we were able to raise over $4,000.  We had all the usual first year mistakes and miscalculations, not to mention 100 deg. heat on Memorial Day, but all-in-all the event was OK and everyone seemed to enjoy the run.  The run was held at Veteran's Park, a Hoover city park, and the use of the park cost over $800 and that was only for 4 hours and did not include a pavilion.  We decided to move the race.

For 2012, we selected Oak Mountain State Park, just south of Birmingham in Pelham, Alabama as the site for The Run for Kids .  This beautiful 10,000 acre park proved to be a huge hit with everyone.  The race was held on the new Lake Trail, built by BUMP (Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers) who maintain all the mountain bike trials at Oak Mountain.  The race started at the southwest end of Double Oak Lake, the swimming and canoeing lake, followed a rather circuitous route along the front of the lake, including crossing the beach area, before heading around the back side on a single track trail.  A few of the male runners mentioned they enjoying the scenery along the beach later in the day.  This picture was taken last fall, not race day.

Everyone love the course and the park.  There is lots to do in the park, especially for family member with kids.  The single track trail is in great shape and very runnable, and shady, except for the section that crosses the dam and a few sections along the front side of the lake.

We did a lot better this year, although we still made a few mistakes, like leaving the run numbers at my house Saturday Morning.  Will, my son, made a quick trip back to retrieve them and we did have to delayed the start about 15 minutes.  Mid afternoon, we ran out of boiled potatoes and my wife, Marye Jo, made another quick trip back home and boiled more potatoes and rushed them back to the race.  We had 105 total registered runners this year, with 71 entered in the 50K and 12 Hour races.  We had set a limit of 100 runners figuring that was about all we could handle this year, but we were not going to turn anyone away race day.  I think we had better find a few more volunteers before next year.

Next I will have the race report itself.  We did have a race, too!

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