Thank you, RunWenatchee
By Marlene Farrell
This winter, the intractable clouds and absent sun have given us an excuse to stay indoors. If only the sunshine would bust through the clouds, we’d rush outside, our faces tilted upward. The touch of our life-giving orb would caress our cheeks and remind us that we are alive — so much more than automatons going from one box to another.
Every now and then something else wakes us from our semi-hibernation. The Bundle-Up 5K Run in Wenatchee last Saturday called to us, and 505 people, young and old, responded.
This was a minimalist event. There was water at the halfway point and finish line, a clock for those interested in their time, but no official timing, gloves to the early registers and a few cones to mark the out and back course.
What attracted a horde of runners and walkers? The folks at RunWenatchee, especially organizers Joel Rhyner and Steve Maher, are like doctors who know their patients well. They prescribed the medicine we needed, in the right dose, at exactly the right time.
Once the race began, it didn’t matter how heavy the clouds hung. We shook them off like an old coat to run light and free.
We didn’t need a long race with tech t-shirts and shiny medals for everyone. Who would have been ready for that when we’ve been squeezing in runs when the dark and ice don’t confound us? We needed a distance that was achievable and still opened our lungs and flushed our bodies with oxygen.
An out and back course can get congested but the buoying effect of cheering each other, friends and strangers alike, uplifted us. Thus we nimbly wove through the oncoming flow of participants, greeting and smiling as we went.
I didn’t have time to formulate expectations because I signed up last minute. So I was thrilled to see people from many facets of my life, all
converging in the camaraderie of running. My friend Marcell McArthur ran by my side nearly the whole race and helped me run faster than what I thought possible. Another friend Laura Valaas cheered with her son and then ran a long cool-down with me. We hashed some summertime trail running plans and I felt my race exuberance subside into a deep contentment. As we returned to the start/finish area, the runners were gone but Joel and Steve (along with Joel’s wife, Michele — their other partner in all-things-running) were still there, packing up the remnants of the registration and water tables.
For the tiniest of fees, these folks brought joy to hundreds. We got a jump start for our legs, turning over faster than they have in months.
Thank you, RunWenatchee, for all you do to connect fun and fitness for this community. Your reputation precedes you and we will continue to flock to your events.
Marlene Farrell is a Leavenworth writer and long-distance runner who has qualified twice for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. She also helps coach the Peshastin-Dryden Striders kids running club.