By Jessica Crabtree
March 30 saw the debut of Clinton’s first certified run/walk event, the 5K Hunger Run. Organized by a group of local volunteers, the new event promotes a family-friendly outdoor activity to benefit the county’s two food banks.
Over 200 runners and walkers from as far as Jonesboro, the Little Rock area, and even Oklahoma joined the crowd of enthusiastic volunteers and spectators on the downtown square. The 3.1 mile course — the first of its kind here — was certified by Arkansas Track & Field, complete with state-of-the-art chip timing.
KHPQ’s Sid King announced at the finish line via live remote, amidst loud cheers as the 1st place winner in the runner’s category, Todd Hink of Clinton, crossed the finish line in a staggering 18 minutes and 15 seconds.
One of the event’s youngest participants, 5-year-old Colton Warren, won a medal in his age group and is eager to run in the event again. "The hills were the hardest part," he said, "but the best thing was the people cheering me on and the granola bars at the end!"
The forecasted rain held off, and participants enjoyed the awards ceremonies, where medals were presented to the top finishers in each age group. Ages of participants in both categories ranged from 3 to 80. Despite the challenging hills toward the end of the course, it was suitable for all ages and athletic abilities, including several first-time walkers and runners who left with medals of their own.
Organizers credit the huge success to a great turnout of registrants and the overwhelming support of volunteers. The impressive list of generous sponsorships from local businesses is also a testament to the strong community spirit.
The Hunger Run is the vision of race director Whitteni Hale, a social studies teacher at Clinton schools and a track enthusiast. Her goal is to revitalize the fight against hunger in a way that embraces fun, healthy activity for all ages.
Backing up Hale is a volunteer board made up of Lori Blagg, treasurer; Megan Lonnon, volunteer coordinator; Leah Sexton; Meagin Warren; Karla Jones; Debbie Lawrence; and Jessica Crabtree.
Scott and Betty Spencer of Clinton’s Foods for Life and Claude and Karin Ruiz of the Choctaw Food Bank were actively involved in the event. Together, these non-profit organizations help thousands of struggling families in Van Buren County each year.
Following the show of support, plans are already in the works for next year’s Hunger Run.
Visit www.clintonhungerrun.com for more information.