A lifelong love of running starts with Emma Creek Classic

By Saralyn Mast – Horizon News and Features Editor

Rita Peters never considered herself a runner. But when she sat watching a 92-year-old woman, three months after major hip surgery, accept an award at the 2008 Emma Creek Classic 5K, something changed.

“I knew I needed to stop saying that I can’t run and become someone who is willing to try,” she said.

Since then, Peters, a nursing instructor, has turned herself into a runner. She has participated in the Nike Women’s Marathon, the Wichita Half Marathon, and two Oklahoma City Half Marathons. She has also gotten her family involved. In fact, every member of the Peters clan will compete in an event at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, April 29.

Peters finds motivation in her own personal health, but also wants to model healthy behavior for her kids.

“They are being exposed to someone who is taking time to take care of herself,” she said.

Stories like Peters’ are music to Jen LeFevre’s ears. LeFevre, a physical education instructor and coordinator of the April 21 Emma Creek Classic, wants the event to motivate participants to form good habits while surrounded by people just like them: community members looking for a fun way to fit some physical activity into their lives.

The run “is a great one…and a short one,” she said. “Seasoned runners can compete while beginners can experience perhaps their first 5K in a fun, less threatening environment.”

The Emma Creek Classic is the largest women-only event in Kansas. It is a time for women to come together and do something good for their bodies. For college women, it’s an opportunity to pull friends together and complete something as a team. It is also a good time to train together or make it a mod activity.

The 3.1 mile run, jog, or walk starts at 9:30  a.m. The runners begin and end at Hesston High School. Fruit, pastries, and beverages will be provided for those crossing the finish line.

Register by getting the form on-line at www.hrce.org/store or at the Wellness Center, or by calling Hesston Recreation and Community Education. Registration is $20, which some college students may find hard to dish out. But LeFevre says it’s worth it.

“You are supporting the Hesston Recreation Education Center and helping these events continue,” she said. “This is the time when you are in the process of forming life long habits.”

The top 10 overall winners receive awards and a special gift. Additionally, the top three in each age division will receive an award. In the past winners have received hand-thrown ceramic platters.

“It’s functional art!” LeFevre said.

And if you register with the “HESSTON COLLEGE, GO LARKS” team, you can be placed as a group.

“Hopefully you will be inspired and challenged to stay active,” LeFevre added. “Hearing others’ stories at this event and seeing women compete, and perhaps even beat you, at 60, 70 and 80 years old is enough to get motivated now!”

As for Peters, her relationship with running has taken a dramatic turn.

“I really enjoy it now,” she said. “It always makes life look a little better once you come in from a run.”

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