Coach Mark Clarke, super ultra and marathon distance runner for decades and Head Cross Country Coach at Joliet Catholic Academy, gave me sound advice years ago. He said, “when you travel, the first thing you should do is look for a race to run.” I am definitely glad I listened to his advice. I traveled to the Branson area over the weekend and when I searched for races to do this weekend, I found a real gem!
The Forrest Gump 5k was held at B and B Theaters in Ozark, Missouri outside of Branson, Missouri. I was intrigued by the name of course and the awesome shirt they advertised-a bright yellow t-shirt that stated the famous Forrest Gump quote “I just felt like running!” in the shape of Forrest’s hat and long runner beard.
My friend and I quickly decided we would run the race, and we were able to register on site that day. The race was amazing, and I admit I am still grinning about it! Nearly 150 runners ran the course, and the race course was fun and challenging.
We started in front of the movie theater and ran the first part in a loop in the parking lot and then out to the neighborhood behind the theater. There were several small hills and three challenging hills. The course had many downhill runs as well to offset the steep hills. The race finished by running back into the parking lot and through the finish line in front of the theater with volunteers and spectators cheering the runners on as they crossed the finish line.
The top four runners went back and forth in the lead the first two miles on the course. Evan Caspery, 19, from Columbia, Missouri came out victorious with a time of 19:53. Travis Stewart placed a close second with 19;58. The third runner overall and Top Female Finisher was Jacquelyn Griffin, age 32, from Ozark ,Missouri in 20:16. David Ladehoff from Illinois finished fourth overall.
The best part of this race was the post-race refreshments and awards. All runners received entry into the theater to see a special showing of Forrest Gump and lots of food and popcorn were available. The overall male and female winner received eight free tickets to the movies plus a winners’ medal, and each age group division winner received two free movie tickets and a medal.
Race Directors Brad Jackson and Chris Essick have many more events planned and each race gives money to a specific charity. This race gave donations to Care to Learn. They also have two more movie themed races planned; on July 21, runners will feel the “need for speed” with a Top Gun themed race and on Oct. 27, they will host one more themed race, movie TBA. In the fall, they will also host a “chase by police officers” race where the course is a game of tag that benefits charities.
This race was an amazing time. If you are planning to travel down to the Branson area, check out these races. It was definitely worth it!!