On the Road with challenges

EDITOR'S NOTE: Roadrunners had a busy week. Follow the links for more information on all of our recent doings, and come on out for the Women's Clinic or the "ANG Running With the Dogs" 8K this week!

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Check out our archive for previous travels On the Road, and remember we invite you to share your own story, cause or advice with our members.


By BRUCE OAKLEY
White River Roadrunners President-elect

The pace is picking up around here! We have our first Challenge Series race in the books, we're about to hit the ground running with the Women Run Arkansas—Batesville clinic, and we've welcomed some new members and friends to our busy pack.

Let's start with another big hello to the newcomers: Bill Owen, Idaly Bezada and Dawn Clark all came to their first club meeting Feb. 19 and then Bill ran his first race ever at the Penguin 5K/10K for Special Olympics on Saturday. Bill said he's been running just a little over two months to improve his health.

Idaly ran backward — yes, backward, and if that doesn't sound impressive, try it for about 30 yards sometime — for the 5K to encourage Dawn as she works hard to get fit. For what it's worth, brief backward trotting is a great way to strengthen your calves and build endurance. The unusual stress of the odd way it works your muscles really gets the heart and lungs going.

And Debra Haun of Mountain Home has run in several local races in recent times but has just joined the Roadrunners this year. She won her age group in the Penguin 5K in her club debut!

Those are a few of the new members I had the chance to talk to; welcome to all!

We had some interesting moments and a lot of Facebook conversation with other visitors as well, as a cantankerous computer ran away with some of our results Saturday. My time was missing in the preliminary 10K results, and I was listed with the next finisher's time. Every finisher thereafter had the next finisher's time. Billie and Dustin Rose were missing in the preliminary results and were disappointed that the times they had seen passing under the clock were not reported, because they had both hit PRs! They are digging deeper in their running and hope to run several Challenge Series races. Janie Barber, our Spirit Award winner from the Women Run Arkansas-Batesville clinic, ran a time that put her second in her age group, but also went unreported. All of us who know Janie know she wins every time out, with or without a trophy! Shout out to Stearns for staying with it and chasing down most of the anomalies (Davy Insell is still listed as a teenager) — the Penguin official online results are now complete and orderly, and our Challenge Series preliminary report will soon be updated to match.

Next race is the Army National Guard FRG 8K this Saturday, March 2, starting at 0900 hours at the Batesville pool at Harrison and 20th.

Click to see the Challenge Series setup, and you may want to visit the Arkansas RRCA page explaining Grand Prix scoring. We use the same basic method, and I will run quickly through the process:

Once we have results from a Challenge Series race, we separate the men's and women's fields. We check the runners for series eligibility, either membership in the club or residence in Independence County. Since it's a free, fun-first competition, we also will include any visitors who plan to run at least four of the races and request to be counted. Once we have removed runners not in the series, we assign decreasing points, with first place getting 11 points, second getting 10, and so on. Every finisher gets at least one point. We do that for overall results, then we repeat for our 10-year age groups.

Once we have tallies for men and women in all those categories, we then add results from each race to the master list, totaling each runner's points, again in overall and in age groups.

We have 14 races included this year, at 12 events. The Penguin Run and the High Rock Hop have two races each, and runners will be scored in whichever one they run. We also have two "Step Up" highlight races that award points from 18 to 8 instead of 11 to 1.

The series is meant to reward runners of all capabilities, so we offer a large collection of races but limit how many results anyone can count. We also report scores for every participant, but to receive an award, a runner must have completed at least five series races. The fastest runners may score the most points in a given race, but probably won't run every race, so a midpack runner may keep up by racing more often. We count only the runner's highest score from the two Step Up races, and only the six best scores from the 10 other possibilities. The load of races gives runners extra chances to score points against different fields -- few runners will be at every race (only four out of about 300 runners made Iron Roadrunner by finishing nine races last year, and this year it will take 10 to earn that title).

We hope you enjoyed keeping up with the 2012 series, and we note that our age group winners included runners who never won their own category at a single race, while we also had runners go undefeated in their age groups in at least three races yet not win series awards. You absolutely have a chance, so get out there and run for fun!

Finally, let's not forget the ladies. Women Run Arkansas—Batesville clinic starts clinic sessions this Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Fitzhugh tennis courts. More than 80 women have signed up through the state Women Run Arkansas site, and Roadrunners will be coaching and encouraging beginners and old hands (old feet?) alike. If you know a lady who needs a cheering section, a mentor or just good company to get started or improve, point her to the free clinic. And if you've got some experience and can provide that kind of help to someone not so far into their running life, the directors would be happy to have your help.

Look forward to seeing you On the Road!