Becky’s Walk 5K Saturday August 21st, 2021 Rangely, CO United States By stjohnthegambler This race, like most things here in Rangely, Colorado, is not that well organized, at least in the ‘sign up’ and ‘get the word out’ stage. But, I’m here, on a cool overcast Saturday morning, which in August, around here, in the high desert of Colorado, is a blessing. The ladies at the check-in desk are all friendly, and even know my name, which happens in a small town. Except to me: I can’t remember names at all, to an embarrassing degree. This is a 5K run/walk. Becky’s Walk. Third annual. Benefit for Multiple Sclerosis. Becky was a local. I think this is put on by her relatives. There are only only 25 folks signed up total, which seems a shame. I know there are some runners in town who aren’t here. Ah well. I’m first to arrive, so I get the number one bib! Ha! It’s been a while since I’ve done any kind of run. Three main reasons: 1. being a fire lookout doesn’t allow for much exercise, period (an excuse perhaps, but yes). 2. Poverty: Just couldn’t afford to run those longer $200 races for a long while there. 3. Injuries: I’ve broken my right foot two different times in the last maybe three years and I’m still not quite one hundred percent on it. May never be, is how it feels, even though I have been running regularly, and hiking. So, I’m out of shape. Gone are the days of marathon running. But, it’s a 5K. I can do that in my sleep. The only question I have is whether the race is going to be up in the gravel roads around town, or on pavement here in town, and it’s the later. If it had been on the gravel, I might have worn my huaraches, my Xero Genesis. The gravel fairies around here are fairly liberal with their gravel, so I’ve mostly been running minimalist this past year. Also, gotta admit, being a new person in a small town, where I’m already an eccentric English teacher at the community college, I confess I’ve been self-conscious about going barefoot around here. But, here I am, standing in the Elks Park parking lot, barefoot, suffering the gazes of the locals, who all know each other. Well, time for some barefoot pride. Represent! A guy gives a pre-race speech. I think he knew Becky. But, says he checked recent info on research into MS, and that there are four new medications developed in the last year, and that money raised here will help go for that. So, right on. We line up. Yeah, there’s maybe ten of us who are actually running. And most of them are youngsters, probably on the junior high cross-country team. No age categories for this one. Actually, the other two older runners are dudes maybe around my age. So, I may be last of the runners, in any category. Ha. So be it. We’re off! I have no idea where I’m going. Supposedly there are spray-painted arrows to direct us, but maybe I can stay in sight of the youngsters. Use them as rabbits. I do a fairly quick start, not a full-on sprint or anything, but it’s slightly uphill and man, I am just winded, sucking air already. Calm, John, calm. Breathe. This is just a local 5K run, no need to get all nervous. Except now I have to piss too. Argh. We head down the short bike trail. One like five year old girl runs alongside me for a while. Excellent!But she tires out pretty quick and goes to walking. The youngsters are all out in front, plus one older guy, who looks like a long-distance runner: skinny. I used to be like that. But hey! I’m barefoot! Feels great! Why don’t I do this more often? But at least hiking and running in the Genesis huaraches has still given me good calluses. We cut on to a road, and there’s an empty lot with trees. I duck in to use the boy’s room, and get passed by two runners, the other older guy and a girl of about 13. The walkers are not in sight. So, I’m now the last runner, as predicted. We go past the high school then up White Avenue? I think? I don’t even know all these neighborhood roads. But, uphill, ugh, for a bit, then left and down through an area I’ve never been before, tucked away, downhill. I try to lean forward, let gravity lead me. Just lifting the feet. Trying to maintain at least a brisk trudge. At least I don’t feel winded anymore. But neither do I feel sleek. We cross Main Street, north, with a local Sheriff there to stop traffic, though there is none. I thank him. He stares at my feet. Like he wants to arrest me for being barefoot. Ha! If I wasn’t in a race, maybe he would! We go north one block, then cut left again, heading west, for a long straightaway. Here, the thirteen-year-old ahead of me slows to a walk. She’s wearing a knee brace, hope she’s not aggravating it. I give her a wave. The second older dude is a couple block ahead of me, with the gaggle of youngsters way out, all sticking together. Right on. We’re all setting off the local dogs to barking. Having had some bad experiences with dogs around here, I’m expecting Cujo to come jumping a fence at me, but no. This road is a bit gritty. Couple places where I swerve to avoid potholes. One place I can’t, just grin and bear going over the gravel. But, all good. Again, it’s a 5K, I can survive anything. And I must be over halfway, I think? Surely? Don’t call me Shirley! Quiet. Only a few folks out in their yards this morning. Oh Rangely, with your battered down house and economy. The coal plants shutting down soon. Will people stay? Nearest grocery store is 45 minutes/miles away in Vernal, Utah. Or go an hour and twenty south to Grand Junction. Going to any other races will require an overnight stay. Anyways, another left, back up (or, south) to Main Street, cross, wave to the police, into the small park, past the one hotel (the other two motels out of business). I run up on the sidewalk here: the cement way smoother and less gritty than the pavement at this point. Out past the two apartment buildings, which the locals call A and B. B is condemned. Past the almost empty trailer park. I have lost sight of anybody—no one in front, no one behind. Story of my life, somehow. But, back on the pavement, the spray-painted arrows have been accurate and visible. Another left et voilà, there’s Elks Park! I’m almost there! Maybe I should increase speed, to at least look, if not be, respectable! I quick trot around the corner across the finish line at the parking lot, with a small group of observers clapping me in. That’s nice. One of the youngster runners looks at me and says loudly, “Wow, dude don’t have no shoes!” The first three finishers are gathering for a photo: Looks like the one in-shape older dude made it in there with two of the youngster boys! Excellent! They get something in an envelope, not sure what. No medals or anything for the rest of us. Which is fine. The other older dude I see walking it off in the parking lot. I don’t think I was behind him too much. My time: 31:31. So, ten minute miles. Not my best 5K. I think I’ve done one in 21 minutes one time. Ah well. But yeah, I’m the last. The girl with the knee brace isn’t in sight, and the walkers are all about halfway at this point. I am content. To run barefoot again, that’s all the really matters. My feet feel fine, great even. Time to head back to my apartment for as hot shower!