story and photos by April Robertson
More than 150 people bundled up in dressy layers Saturday morning (Jan. 12), combating the cold with dress shirts, bowties, suits, formal dresses paired with leggings and plenty of top hats before taking a 3.1 mile run in Rogers around the VIllage on the Creeks.
The light-hearted contest was a part of the seventh annual Tux on the Run 5K to benefit the Northwest Arkansas Mercy Family YMCA, which doesn’t turn down any interested parties, regardless of financial situation.
Employees of the center were pleased with the turnout on the dreary winter day.
“We initially had about 150 sign up,” said Ashton Caton, NWA Mercy Family YMCA wellness coordinator. “But we also had a bunch sign up today.”
Although the event has occurred in the past, the fancy costumes are a new addition.
“We’ve done this for seven years, but this is only the second time we’ve had it at our new facilities,” said Johanna Rowe. “This is the first time we’ve really had them dress up.”
Race participants dressed up in penguin outfits, penguin hats as well as various bow-tie and scarf concoctions. In the Best Dressed category, Roger Penny was awarded “best scarf” for a vibrant rainbow scarf that had fluffy white clouds on each end; Bill and Natalie Burchit were awarded Best Dressed Family for their duo of a suit garnished with a bowtie and formal dress; Mike Christenson also got a mention for best scarf, which proudly displayed a YMCA logo, paired with a penguin hat crafted by his wife;
Other honorable outfits included David Steeves and Steve Lowery’s powder blue and bright orange suits; brother-sister pair Austin and Emelie Fincher’s glittery top hats, sunglasses and a mustache and the black and white bow-tied scarves worn by Samantha Randolph and Jenny Dement.
As always, the reasons and goals of each participant vary.
“I heard someone say ‘I just want to beat my time in a tux,’” Rowe said.
Others ran with a group from their school, some with friends or fitness partners and a few people ran because they had never participated in a 5K before and wanted to try something new.
Participants were awarded based on age category.
In the women’s 13 and under division, Izzy Gifford took first place and Natalie Watkins second. In women’s 14-19 division, Claire Smith was awarded first place, followed by Sheridan Ellis and Rebecca Brown. Hannah Morris earned first place in women’s 20-29, followed by Jessica Salmon in third. In women’s 30-39, first went to Angie Lankford; second to Alison Harp and third to Colleen Weigle. Kristy Tompkins was awarded first in women’s 40-49, followed by Beth O’Neal and Jeni Reiser. In women’s 50-59 division, Sandy Tush came in first, Gayle Baxter second and Cherie Moye third. The only contestant in the women’s 60+ division, Rebecca Christenson, was awarded first place.
In men’s 13 and under division, Jack Lisle and Hayden Smith were awarded. In the 30-39 category, Creed Piel took first place; Scott Ebert second and Jonathan Pedroza third. Chuck Court and Steve Ebert were awarded in the 40-49 division. Greg Taylor and Charles Halliburton were winners in the 50-59 division. Winners in the 60+ men’s division were Richard Levin and Mike Christenson.