Simple kind of sport

By Staff
Kim West
Franklin County Times
Once upon a time I ran cross-country in high school and played college soccer, which meant running was a part of my weekly routine.
Once I returned to North Alabama to finish my degree, I played intramurals but didn't run on a regular basis and fell out of shape. So at the beginning of this year, I decided to start running again and signed up with two of my friends for the Huff 'n Puff on the Bluff 15K relay race as a way to make sure I would stick with it.
The Huff 'n Puff was originally scheduled for March 10, but it was canceled on the eve of the race due to the snow and ice that covered much of the 9.3-mile course, which runs along the Tennessee River and winds through downtown Sheffield.
Last Saturday was the re-scheduled date, and I took the second leg of the course because I wanted to run the hilly part. As I was waiting for my teammate Landon to appear and hand off the baton, I saw three-time race winner Scott Strand pass by at a pace best described as a full sprint despite having ran 3.1 miles with 6.2 miles left to complete.
That man was in a class of his own, but the thing that struck me the most that morning besides the 95-degree heat and persistent humidity was the age diversity of the runners. Harvest's Bill Chubb, 77, completed the race in 1:44:03, while 13-year-old Reid Harrison of Town Creek clocked in at 1:24:03 to finish among the top 50 finishers in a field of 120 runners.
Red Bay's Leah Shewbart, 31, who competed in the relay race with Red Bay Wellcare teammates Christy Austin and Beverly Kennedy last year and finished fourth in the individual 15K this year, is a former high school basketball player and picked up running three years ago on a dare by Austin.
"I liked just the challenge of running, to see if I could do it," said Shewbart, who has ran in the Country Music Marathon in Nashville and St. Jude's Marathon in Memphis in the past six months. "About three years ago, I joined a gym and the trainer, Christy Austin, dared me to run a 5K. I've been running ever since, and it's turned into a lifetime hobby.
"I have two small children, but if I can find 15-20 minutes or an hour, all you need is a pair of shoes and a road to cover – it's just simple."
Shewbart is one of 28 Franklin County residents who belong to the Tennessee River Athletic Club, a 300-member club that promotes running and provides timing and race day services to local race organizers, including the annual Watermelon Run held at Russellville High School.
For more information about TRAC, visit www.shoalstrac.com or contact club president Frank Spires at (256) 760-9502 or trac@hiwaay.net.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at kim.west@fct.wpengine.com or (256) 332-1881.

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