BY MELANIE BUCK –
Clint Buck, an 18-year old Mena High School senior, was named the individual winner of the 4th annual Talimena 13.1 Run and Relay on Saturday, March 11, 2017 after completing the 13.1 miles up Rich Mountain in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 57 seconds. Although this year was not his fastest time to complete the grueling run, it was Buck’s third year in a row to declare the overall winner trophy. Buck said, “He has blessed me once again,” giving God the glory for giving him the strength to finish.
Sara Blickenstaff came in just 3 minutes behind Buck to claim the overall female title. She actually began running the race when it was called the Rich Mountain Classic in the 1980’s and 90’s and now she and husband, Shawn, continue to make the trip ‘back home’ to run the ½ marathon each year.
To complete the men’s overall division, 2nd place was awarded to Shawn Blickenstaff, and Malcolm Moe placed 3rd. Eliza Drew claimed 2nd in the women’s overall division and Emily Emerson took 3rd.
In team competition, Acorn Cross Country’s 13-member relay team took first place, coming across the line in 1 hour 36 minutes. This was their second year to claim the team trophy. Waldron Cross Country team was not far behind in second, and the Bearcat Football boys came in third. Finishing out the division were Union Bank in 4th, MRHS Pacemakers in 5th, and Queen Wilhelmina State Park in 6th.
There was also a 4-member relay team. Priority Aviation took first place in 2:04.21. Houston Desis came in 2nd.
In age divisions, Clint Buck, 1st place, 19 & under, Shawn Blickenstaff took first in the men’s 35-39 group; Malcolm Moe took first in the 45-49 group; 50-54 – Kenneth Hall, 1st, Noel Sagullo, 2nd; 55-59 – Jeff Johnson, 1st, Kotesh Rao, 2nd; 65-69 – Jeff Teater, 1st; 75-79 – Marvin Glenn, 1st.
In women’s age divisions, Angelina and Christianna Moe took 1st and 2nd in the 19 & under group; Eliza Drew, 1st, in 25-29; 30-34 – Emily Emerson, 1st, Vanessa McKnight, 2nd, Kristie Hutchison, 3rd; 35-39, Sara Blickenstaff, 1st; 40-44 – Amber Arnold, 1st; 45-49 – Cynthia Chastain, 1st, Catherine O’Brien, 2nd, Dustie Jobe, 3rd; 50-54 – Pam Moore, 1st, Mary Barrs, 2nd; 55-59 – Barbara Drew, 1st, Cyndee Maxwell, 2nd, Teresa Eagle Road, 3rd; 60-64 – Mary Ayn Tullier, 1st.
Jeff Teater, a 65 year old Army veteran from Fort Worth, made the climb in 4 hours and 6 mintues. Teater participated in the race 30 years ago. He wanted to come back and complete the trek againas he is currently fighting prostate cancer. He said he it was on his bucket list and he can now mark that dream as complete.
Organizers of the event were pleased with this year’s turnout, especially amid such cold and windy conditions and look forward to hosting the event again next year.