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Making an exception to the no-racing edict

When you have a particular hobby or interest, you can quickly discover you’re not alone.

Participating in races is proof of that. Ditto for going to estate auctions all the time or car shows or yard sales, for example, where you’ll find a lot of the same people all the time.

The participants can become like an extended set of friends or family you expect to see or look forward to seeing.

While I haven’t gotten away from running itself, I have pretty much abandoned participating in local 5K run/walks or ones of greater distance, simply because the novelty of doing them has dissipated over the years and, by golly, I’m downright lazy about attending such things and surrendering an otherwise leisurely Saturday morning or weekday evening.

There was a period of years, however, when I went faithfully most anywhere in the area where there was a race, and that requires a bit of commitment of time and energy in itself, well before the race even gets started.

Just ask Better Half, my chauffeur/race photographer.

You leave extra early on a Saturday morning, for example, to head to a race location, or late afternoon for an early evening one.

It can get time consuming, but it was fun while I did them. I accumulated a lot of great T-shirts, memories and even got some ribbons and plaques here and there, but, honestly, there came a time when I thought, maybe participating has “run” its course, so to speak.

My competitive edge had waned to the point of wanting desperately to pass up the lady in front of me, the one pushing a buggy of triplets.

So I have been content to go on solo “runs” at my convenience to destinations of my own choosing. No timing. Just go.

One race I always had on my calendar, though, was the annual Marland Heights 5K Classic in Weirton, always a great, well-organized and challenging course, given the hills kind of sneak up on you in this one.

On Aug. 9, I made an exception to my self-imposed no-more-racing edict.

The reason?

Su Cha Vojvodich, who was 78 when she died Aug. 2.

Born in South Korea, Su Cha was very petite, very athletic and very competitive, whether we saw each other at the Marland Heights race in Weirton or the Ultimate Road Test, a ridiculous 14.9-mile run from Cadiz to Hopedale and back. Who pays to do such things on purpose?

When Better Half and I paid our respects at the funeral home, we saw photos from racing events, including Marland Heights, and remembered how we would always “run” into Su Cha and her husband, Joe, who participated in the walks.

The thought crossed my mind then to run this year’s Marland Heights race for old times’ sake, in memory of Su Cha.

Ironically, or maybe not, just before the race started, participants were asked to observe a moment of silence in Su Cha’s memory, given she was a longtime member of the Millsop Community Center and the running community.

I’m so glad I decided to listen to my gut and participate in the race through the Weirton hilltop neighborhood.

It was a special evening remembering someone special.

(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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