Vidakovich column: Fun at the Jingle Bell Run
Several local runners converged on Independence Run and Hike in Carbondale on Sunday, Dec. 17, for the ninth annual Jingle Bell Run 5K. Race director Brion After’s annual gathering of costume-clad holiday revelers, drew a record crowd of 105 participants on a sunny winter morning.
Wesley Toews of New Castle was the overall winner, and he was chased all the way to the finish line by some folks that are almost household names in the local running circle. In order, Glenwood’s Henry Barth, New Castle’s Josh Hejtmanek, and Gavin Harden and Reid Swanson, both of Glenwood, were hot on the trail.
A former Western State College standout, and current Glenwood resident, Tara Richardson was the best of the ladies. Glenwood High School educator Anne Swanson and GS Middle School seventh-grader Sophia Nevin were close behind Richardson.
The highlight of the day for me, other than seeing all the unique and colorful Christmas attire, was getting to meet Nevin’s little dog, who is relegated to a canine wheelchair due to paralysis in his back legs. I didn’t catch the dog’s name, but I petted him up something fierce prior to the race, and then watched as he propelled himself along with determination, using his front legs only, as he glided alongside Nevin’s mom throughout the run on the streets of Carbondale.
I was told after the run was complete, that Nevin’s mom had to carry the little guy up the long hill that marks the halfway point of the course. I was a little jealous, because as bad as I felt going up that hill, I wish someone would have been there to carry me.
I congratulated Nevin and her mom for their efforts on the day and gave the dog a few more farewell pets. He was plenty warm, though, as the Nevin’s had him decked out in a warm Christmas sweater that was the envy of all.
Animals have always led my list of favorite creatures to be around. The other two groups are of the human variety: children and old people. It must be because in my eyes, all three groups are pretty much the same. They all crave attention at all times, and will give unconditional love and attention in return. All three groups are wonderfully happy with the simplest things life has to offer, whether it’s a snowy day at recess, an old episode of “Bonanza,” or a warm doggie bed by the fire to sleep the night away on. Don’t be fooled, though, they can all spot mean people and phony macaronis in a heartbeat. Yes, I do like animals, children and old people best. I must have finally fallen into the latter category because in the past few months, I have developed an affinity for watching the late afternoon reruns of “Little House on the Prairie” with my mom.
The blue-sky day at the Jingle Bell Run was capped off by the much anticipated “Ugly Sweater Contest.” Jeremy Duncan of Carbondale barely edged out Glenwood cross country coach Justin Baum as the applause-o-meter decided the winner. I was pulling for Glenwood High School track coach Blake Risner and his wife Nancy. Risner was eliminated in the semi-finals, and Nancy (aka Judy Jetson) whose red, green and white sweater boldly declared “Bite Me!” went out, unfairly I thought, in the first round. Coach Risner couldn’t have been too disappointed, though, as all proceeds from the race were donated to his successful high school track program.
Top age-category runners got gift certificates from Independence Run and Hike, and all participants got a free burrito and drink at Dos Gringos. A good day was had by everyone.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Mike Vidakovich writes freelance for the Post Independent.