Rain or shine, Ironkids cross the finish line

ST. GEORGE — A brief downpour soaked the lawns of Town Square Park in St. George but did little to dim the happy mood of hundreds of children and their families who came out to take part in the “Ironkids St. George Fun Run” Friday evening.

Ironman Kids Fun Run in St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina St. George News
Siblings enjoy their finish at the Ironkids St. George Fun Run. Town Square Park, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina St. George News

The run, held on the eve of the Ironman 70.3 St. George North American Pro Championship, involved young competitors showing their resolve through one of two races.

Before the start, the sea of kids in orange shirts huddled under the tents at the sign-in station during the worst of the deluge. Then, by 6:30 p.m., the rain eased and they all gathered by the stage for instructions.

The Fun Run offered two separate races for the Ironkids.

The first was a 1-mile, two-lap run beginning on Tabernacle Street and ending at the massive Ironman 70.3 finish chute on Main Street.

The second was much shorter, geared for younger children; like the first race, it began on Tabernacle Street and finished on Main Street but was less than one lap. Parents were allowed to run with their Ironkids in the shorter race.

A runner gets her picture taken at the Ironman Kids Fun Run in St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
A runner gets her picture taken at the Ironkids Fun Run with a sign “Only Half Crazy.” St. George Town Square Park, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

The first race had the larger number of runners, and when the throng of kids started out, several fell but race organizers and competitors a like did a good job of making sure no one got trampled or injured.

As the runners reached the finish line, they were cheered on by well-wishers and greeted by volunteers who handed them medals. Thirsty kids were also treated to bottles of water from volunteers.

James McFadden, president of the St. George Exchange Club, said that this year’s race was one of the largest in its history, with an estimated 800-plus children running in the event.

“We had one that was larger, about three years ago,” McFadden said. “It was almost 1,100 kids.”

A volunteer presents a medal to a young competitor at the Ironman Kids Fun Run in St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
A volunteer presents a medal to a young competitor at the Ironkids St. George Fun Run, Town Square Park, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

The Fun Run, notwithstanding its name, has a much more serious purpose, MacFadden said, and that is to raise awareness of child abuse. One of the Exchange Club’s primary national missions is the prevention of child abuse. He said:

This was an opportunity for us to do some outreach at the schools, to give the kids some strength, courage and, in accomplishing these things, let them know they have a voice – there are people that will listen to them.

If they have a friend that’s in pain or hurting, or they are in a situation that’s less than favorable, we want them to know that there are people here that are willing to listen and help out in solving those problems and removing them from those potential abusive relationships.

The most gratifying aspect of this year’s race, McFadden said, was how many people signed up despite the rain.

“It was pouring rain, and we still had people who were signing up for the first time, that were coming in and checking in. They really didn’t care that it was raining.”

And neither, it turned out, did the older Ironman 70.3 competitors the next day, which saw more than its own smattering of rain here and there throughout the three-discipline course. Nearly 3,000 competitors from 24 countries came. They swam, they biked, they ran all the way to the finish line.

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Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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