Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ready, set, marathon!

The Little Rock Marathon this weekend was not only a way for our family to stretch our legs but turned out to be a great way to meet and see race celebrities.

The governor, widely famed for his weight loss and his Healthy Arkansas plan, was expected to compete but I didn't see him for the first half of the race. My doubts about his athletic prowess were soon stilled as he whizzed past me as I stood right beside the course at the halfway point. We didn't catch up with him while he wasn't in motion, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of photos of him in the papers and on the news in the coming days. It was his second Little Rock marathon (and third overall) and he finished in an impressive four hours, 25 minutes.

My children had the chance to meet the winner and some of the first finishers, a group of healthy and athletic men from Kenya. The winner set a race record of finishing the entire 26.2 miles in two hours, 19 minutes, and 48 seconds. We saw him whiz by at the first relay exchange and the pace car was going pretty fast to keep up with his steady pounding on the pavement.

Everyone in the marathon wasn't a lean mean running machine. Those types were outnumbered by everyday people, quite a few who are older, younger, and a little larger that what you might expect at a racing event. Those are the ones I enjoy seeing and cheering on.

The girls saw plenty of dogs along the race course and even someone dressed up in a money roll outfit. As I chatted with a high school classmate — we usually see each other at sporting competitions around the state — my children and hers rolled in the dry grass on the State Capitol lawn. She beat her previous time by finishing the half marathon in just under two hours and was proud of that.

Of course our family's race celebrity was my husband, who finished his leg — a little better than six miles — in less than an hour and a half! He's not the fastest thing out there, but he was out there and he finished, and that is most certainly a winning combination.

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