Yesterday was the seventh annual AthHalf, the signature event of AthFest Educates, the local charity that infuses our schools with enhanced arts and music opportunities for Athens schoolchildren. And major kudos to Jill Helme and her whole team at AthFest Educates for the work they do all year, not just in June and October
AthHalf is always one of my favorite days of the year— I think the few minutes before the race starts and the few minutes after crossing the finish line are my favorite moments of each year, and then there’s the 13.1 miles in between of course too!
For anyone who has never run or walked (or a combo approach for many participants), you should really consider signing up well in advance for next year’s run. The months of training are beneficial and in some ways enjoyable as you feel the strength and conditioning increasing and then as the big October race day looms.
And then it’s here as the Saturday evening carbo-loading and sleep-lousy night gives way to Sunday morning and being there and running/walking/sprinting/trudging your way through one of Athens best days: the AthHalf.
Here are some of my favorite personal highlights from this year’s installment of the seventh annual AthHalf:
–The early morning October chill in the dark as I left my house still an hour or more from first step of the AthHalf;
–The pre-race service that gets started at 6:30 AM and is over by 7 AM at the “church of the starting line,” First Presbyterian on Hancock just around the corner from the races’s start. A couple of hymns, lots of stretching even while praying, scripture, a brief and focused message, mainly a way to find a spiritual community among fellow runners from all over, just like the AthHalf itself;
–And the Star-Spangled Banner sung in the dark just before we begin is a nice moment as well;
–Making the Your Speed
sign light up on mercifully downhill King Avenue register (12 MPH. one less than a few years ago— oh well);
–The delicious oranges offered by VFW volunteers right toward the end as we rounded the corner at Stegeman Coliseum
–The downhill run onto the bridge next to the stadium on Sanford Drive as the music played and the announcer named finishers and hometowns as people crossed the finish line down below;
–Rounding the corner at Memorial Hall with the awesome Flamethrowers cranking out loud instrumental rock and blues, anchored by the drummer Steve Sacco, local middle school teacher extraordinaire;
–Getting my last cup of water of the day from my daughter Eliza at the First Presbyterian water stand;
–Entering the stadium and watching myself running so slowly on the big screen;
–Finishing. Done done, again.
–The Mayflower as always!
Until next year, and the one after that, hopefully for a long time to come, one step at a time…