Just what is it about runners? They will get up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to race 3.2 miles at 8 a.m. and pay to do it. I'm thinking someone should pay me to get out of bed on a Saturday morning to go run. I did walk the Governor's Cup Race one year but stopped off at the Lamar to have breakfast, so I didn't finish. I did finish Port Gibson's Dilla Dash, tied for last with a gentleman on one crutch and his golden retriever.
Last Saturday at the Swinging Bridge 5K in Byram, not only were runners and walkers out that early, but volunteers were as well. The sun had not yet made its full debut, and 15 or so members of the Mississippi Track Club were setting up tables full of bananas and apples for the post-race feeding, making chutes for the racers to come through at the finish and testing the chronomix machines that would verify all finishing times.
Club officer Ruby Drotch was organizing Track Club merchandise and brochures. "I used to come and just sit in the truck and watch my husband, Harvey, run," she told me. "One day someone yelled at me to get out of the truck and come help them. I have been helping ever since."
Bryan Lagg, a runner who came out at 6 to help set up, said it was a good way for him to give back to an organization that can't function without volunteers—and, of course, a way to stay in shape. "It's like being on a diet. One day a week I can do what I want," he said. Bryan says people also come out for the camaraderie of racing. All runners, warmed up, begin at 8. As they cross the finish line, they are given a place number which determines their age-group finish. Walkers start one minute after the runners. After the runners and walkers have finished, the kids do a one-mile fun run; parents often run out and back, too.
"If people would come out one Saturday morning, I believe they would keep coming back," said Jim Myrick, treasurer and equipment coordinator for the Track Club and a member for 23 years. Linda Myrick, his daughter and special events coordinator, says she loves to see the little kids running back with big grins like they had just finished a marathon.
After the races, while the times are tabulated and winners decided, many participants socialize. I saw families together, fathers and sons jogging, friends visiting with friends, racers comparing workout tips and kids just having fun. Track Club President Jack Ward wants people to get interested in physical fitness. It doesn't have to be about how fast you can run. It's about staying healthy and reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke or diabetes. Murray Collums, 74, runs now because he enjoys the competition and being around people, but 22 years ago he ran to lose weight. He went from 198 to 148 after he started running. Ward said MTC offers fitness and walking seminars to groups and will come to the organization to present it.
The club holds 39 races a year. The group's annual picnic and race at the D'Lo Water Park, Highway 49 South, takes place Saturday, July 26, at 10 a.m. Everyone is invited. MTC will furnish the food. For more information about the picnic or to join the Track Club, call Jim or Judy Myrick at 856-9884.
The Essence of Running
ìRunning is a road to self-awareness and self-reliance...
You can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet, but when you are through, exhilarated and exhausted, at least for a moment everything seems right with the world.î
- Jack Ward