About a year ago some folks from Kent State and the City casually began discussing the prospect of showcasing the new hike and bike trails in Kent as well as the recreational opportunities available in the Cuyahoga River as it runs through downtown Kent. To be honest, it was one of those — wouldn’t it be great if we could come up with an event that would be centered around the great outdoor recreational assets we have and get people excited to enjoy our community. One thing led to another and 12 months later 250 people came to downtown Kent this past Saturday morning to boat, run and bike their around town and experience some of the best Kent has to offer in the first annual Black Squirrel Adventure Race.
You couldn’t help but smile when you saw all these different people, from different places, of different ages, with different athletic capabilities coming together on a bright sunny Saturday in downtown Kent to be a part of something new. It was a great ecclectic mix of body types, cardio capacity and spandex — that all came together in a shared purpose to get a Kent induced endorphin fix, with each person leaving a part of themselves here and taking a piece of Kent with them.
As you might expect the victors were predictibly fit and athletically inclined. My teammates and I noted early on that there were a dozen genuine endurance athletes in the mix — respectfully referred to as the thoroughbreds — followed by all the rest of us donkeys. Hey, there’s no shame in being a fast donkey.
For a first time event, with 250 participants, the day went remarkably smoothly. I’m sure we’ll debrief and talk about how to make things even better next year because based on all the smiles I saw and comments I heard, I’d expect an even bigger turnout in year 2.
The event was a fund raiser for Boy Scouts and I know the Scout representatives were thrilled with the turnout. Nothing better than a great day for a great cause.
Families signed up as teams — with brothers and sisters traded sibling rivalry for what smelled like team spirit. I saw father and son teams, father daughter teams, brother sister teams, husband wife teams and even teams of friends. At a time when it’s hard to find the time for families to even eat a meal together it was great to see them spend 3 hours on a Saturday morning sweating together and cheering each other on. Watching the smiles at the finish line proved that winning was secondary to enjoying the day and the time together.
I know it sounds like a Hallmark movie about Mayberry — but it was all Kent, young and old, tatooed, tie-dyed, with a hint of spandex and plenty of craziness. If you don’t believe me, ask my team members about how we re-enacted the Titanic and managed to sink our kayak. We still competed, and we put up some good times in the run and bike portions only to find out at the end that when a submerged kayak will get you disqualified every time.
So no trophy for us but 20 years from now we’ll still be telling the story of how we sunk a kayak 1/4 of a mile from the finish line. It doesn’t get any better than that.
ps. Our resident photo guru, Joel Hawksley, was the official event photographer and he took some great shots. Here’s the site where you can look for your friends and buy a picture of them enjoying their agony: Joel’s Web Site