BY LEANN DILBECK –
Incredible endurance combined with community spirit and pride were exemplified this morning as almost 200 runners/walkers of all ages participated in the Talimena 13.1 full half marathon, benefitting the POLK COUNTY DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER.
The event kicked off at Janssen Park and participants conquered, either individually or by relay, the grueling 13.1 miles up the TALIMENA NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY. The first runner across the line with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes, 54 seconds was Matt Aguero from Poteau, Oklahoma. Aguero, an experienced runner, said he was training for the Boston Marathon and had participated during last year’s event with his running partner, Tommy Brennan, who finished in 2nd place today.
The event also featured a 13-person relay, which attracted many local businesses and organizations. Others participated by hosting water stations along the route and offering much needed support along the challenging route.
The air might have been soggy but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirit of the participants as organizers created an energetic environment from start to finish that was inspirational, even to spectators and cheerleaders. Foggy conditions at the bottom only increased as runners proceeded to top of Arkansas’ second highest peak.
A similar run was held from 1986 to 1990, called the Rich Mountain Classic. Race Director Dale Powell, who resurrected the race and renamed it the Talimena 13.1, was very pleased with the success of this year’s run. Recognizing the value and uniqueness of the national scenic byway and the beauty that Rich Mountain offers, Powell said the event already had the main ingredient for a successful event. He added that he was very proud to see the community involvement of this year and hopes it only continues to grow for next year’s event.[PHOTOS BY LEANN DILBECK]