At the starting line March 7 for the 19th Annual Deer Creek Classic, runners were treated to the energizing beats of the Thunder Drum Line, the excited chatter of other jittery runners, and a healthy dose of much anticipated sunshine.
Although the temperature had only reached 40 degrees by start time, there was something both thrilling and heartwarming about so many people coming together for an important fundraising event benefitting the Deer Creek School District.
As a mom who was a long-distance racer once upon a time, I discovered that this year’s Deer Creek Classic was the first event I had ever participated in that featured families. It was a real treat to bounce up and down on the balls of my feet while listening to the happy voices of all ages, especially the children who have been training for the race with their individual school’s running club.
In fact, all eight Deer Creek schools competed to have the largest percentage of runners, with Grove Valley Elementary winning the Golden Shoe Award for 2015 and Rose Union Elementary coming in a close second.
The starting line was comfortably crowded, with over 1,550 runners from all over the state participating in the annual race that started at Deer Creek Intermediate School. Racers included students, parents, and teachers from all of Deer Creek’s schools. The one-mile fun run kicked the event off at 8:30 a.m. with the 5K and 10K beginning soon after.
Cherisse Warren, a pre-K teacher at Rose Union Elementary, was excited to participate in the fun run with so many colleagues and students. “I supported the Creek Classic as a proud parent in the past and this year I ran and walked with my Rose Union pre-K students. It’s great to see my young students involved with supporting their school and running.”
Former Deer Creek student Lindsey Cox gave a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem, and Mrs. Oklahoma Danelle Burwell fired the starting pistol for the longer races.
Although the shaded starting line felt a little chilly, the course, which headed north on MacArthur, quickly turned sunny. The 5K runners (including me) waved goodbye to the 10K racers at Coffee Creek Road as we headed into the Cedar Ridge Farms neighborhood before heading back to MacArthur.
As for the finish-line experience? It was probably one of the most enjoyable ever. Instead of zombie-like distance runners staggering around the finish line, the entire area was crowded with families congratulating members on a job well done.
The family feel also came from family members competing in the races together. Melissa Marker, who has children at three Deer Creek schools said, “The race gives families something different and fun to do on a Saturday morning.” Her fifth-grade son, Ayden, joined her in the 5K, and he was thrilled about beating his time from last year.
But the fun didn’t stop there. Included in the race’s entry fee was not only a commemorative T-shirt, but also a free pancake breakfast. The Cross Country Team Boosters cooked up stacks of flap jacks for all the runners to eat after the run, and again, I was impressed by the sheer number of volunteers and racers who had come to make the event a success.
“This is the only school-wide fundraiser, so the entire Deer Creek Community gets involved,” said Jolene Curry, Creek Classic Chairman.
As a Deer Creek parent, I can’t complain. The money raised from this event helps Deer Creek Schools purchase items such as iPads, smart boards, text books, library books, mobile laptop computers, education for teachers, playground equipment, software, sound systems, and more.
And finally, although this mama did her very best to keep up with the pack, I was far from being part of the winner’s circle. Those honors belonged to the following racers:
Female — Ashley Miller: 17:20
Male — Charles Reichert: 17:28
Male — Eric Delgado: 35:10
Female — Brianne Kirchgessner: 47:29
Congratulations to all!
M.M. COX is a former journalist and public relations professional who is now a full-time mom, author and blogger.