Racing Fun 5/21/13

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Racing for Paws

By John Howell

I felt like the designated carrot during Saturday’s Racing for Paws. Or maybe I was the stick.
More than once I would hear spectators’ encouragement stage-whispered to some runner behind me: “Run! Don’t let that old bald-headed man finish ahead of you!”
As often as not, they’d go zipping past.

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But I finished, along with over 300-something other runners of every age and pace, and I did not see anyone who did not have fun. That includes racers, walkers, spectators and their dogs. The race is fun, family and pet-friendly, gives us incentive to eat more wisely and to stay active while we help support the Panola County Humane Society at the same time. The humidity was adequate and fairly distributed.

Last Friday when we published 30-year-old photos of the 1983 Fun Run, I was amused at the finish line photo. Two youngsters held a string across it as runners approached. Coach Ronald McMinn was bent down to make sure he could see who would win in the close finish. Tom Hamby was nearby, trying to record times with a stop watch. When a gaggle of runners crossed the finish line about the same time, each runner’s time was an honest guess at best.

The finish line has been considerably improved. Runners’ times are recorded instantly as they cross and they can walk to a nearby tent and receive a printed report of their performance.

With the publication of those old photos last Friday, I wondered to myself if there would be anyone who ran then who would also be running in this year’s Racing for Paws. I didn’t have to wonder long. I spotted Niles Norris near the starting line. He had been a winner in his age group in that 1983, and Saturday morning, the Batesville Rehabilitation owner was out practicing his own medicine.

And Charlie Dawson. Charlie started running in those Fun Runs of the early 1980s, liked and did well. He eventually earned a track scholarship for college. At age 37, he is still a competitive runner. Last year he was the overall winner in Racing for Paws. This year he was third overall. Charlie’s sister, Anna Lauren Bowie, ran as well and was 10th among female runners in the 20 to 29 age group.

Other family members were there as well, Charlie’s mom, Debbie Bowie; his wife, Monica; and two of their three children, Hazel Rose and Jess.

At age eight months, Hazel Rose had taken her first steps the day before, Charlie told me. On Saturday in the cluster of folks who gathered around the downtown Memorial Park waiting for all participants to finish and winners to be announced, Hazel Rose was anxious for her daddy to put her down.

He’d obliged from time to time, gently lowering her to the brick sidewalk. She would stand there feet spread wide apart, swaying and rocking slightly as she felt for her balance, thoroughly pleased with herself as though she was strengthening her own legs for some race to come.