A great day to run for a great cause

Published 4:20 pm Monday, April 17, 2023

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Six months of planning paid off in a big way Saturday morning as over 220 runners took part in the first and hopefully annual Exodus 5k/10k run at Mac Hodges Festival Park.

Easter weekend’s mini monsoon postponed the festivities by a week, which greatly disappointed yours truly, since I had been training for it since early February.

What a glorious day it turned out to be. It was well worth the wait to run under a mostly clear sky with little humidity among many friends for a great cause.

The members of F3 Washington, a workout group for area men, decided to stage an event that would raise money for a cause that would make a tangible difference in the community. Mission accomplished. Saturday’s event raised over $20,000 for Dare Challenge, a Wanchese-based treatment center that helps area men rid themselves of drugs and alcohol through a rigorous 10-month treatment program.

“I think this event exceeded all our expectations,” F3 member and race coordinator Brian Ward said. “We’re very pleased that this many runners came out and the community support was tremendous. It was well worth all the work it took to pull this together and we’d like to do it again.”

The Haw Branch Church of Christ sponsored a community breakfast across Water Street from the park and you didn’t have to run to eat. Pancakes and sausage hit the spot after the race and the top three finishers in multiple age divisions took home medals.

The 5K course took runners down Water St. to McNair, then left on E. Main over Jack’s Creek, over the bridge through Washington Park and back up Main to Market with the final turn back to Water St. where the time clock came into view.

15-year old Nick Edwards of Washington won the 5K, completing the 3.1 mile course in 23:35.

21 runners finished in under 30 minutes, including the top two in my age group, but I wasn’t one of them.

In my head I was cruising along, but it resembled more of a plod in reality, especially on the way back up the hill at Jack’s Creek. There wasn’t much left in the tank when I headed down the home stretch, but I did manage to post a personal best time of 34:45, which made the twice a week training sessions worth it. My goal was to finish the 5K before Mark Cagle, F3 name Poacher, completed the 10K.

Cagle, a 54-year old Belhaven resident who runs regularly and is in ridiculously good shape, set a blistering pace in the longer run and finished in 41:41, which averages to a 6:42 mile. Something to aspire to, I suppose, but it’s going to take a while.

Hats off to Kickball, Tooth Fairy, Columbus, Ramses, Woody, Thee Wolverine, Double D, Deuce, Largemouth, Reboot, Cornhole, Burt, Dirt Bag, Matlock and many others who did the heavy lifting to make this idea a reality.

F3 stands for Faith, Fellowship and Fitness and is free to all men. Workouts are at 5:15 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday and at 7 on Saturday. Monday is reserved for bible study; Thursday is rucking day and the group runs on Friday. Come join us and we’ll give you a cool nickname too.