What a wonderful time I had at Bass Pro Outdoor Fitness Festival! A huge thanks to Melissa Bondy, Dean Cheatham, and Martin McDonald of Bass Pro, those three are the force behind this great event! Also, a big thanks to my friend Danny Correll and his family! Danny is my host and always picks me up at the airport and gets me to all the different venues I need to be at, but more importantly, Danny has become a true friend to Jilly and me.
Right on schedule, I arrived into Springfield on Wednesday and Danny was there to greet me and take me to my hotel. After a short nap I went out for an easy run around town. I've been coming to the Bass Pro Outdoor Fitness Festival since its inception and love the people, and the town of Springfield. Springfield has some of the most beautiful places to run.
For dinner, I went to Hemingway's Restaurant located inside Bass Pro Shops, never ever have I not had a super meal eating there! Anything within the Bass Pro Shop is awesome, to this outdoorsman!
I usually come in on Wednesday as Bass Pro is kind enough to send me out on Thursday for a day of fishing with one of their guides. Unfortunately they were all fishing in a big bass tournament so fishing for this year was out but that's OK as I'm fortunate to fish around Austin when I'm home and not out on the road speaking.
Instead I was invited over to the Bass Pro Wellness Conference in the brand new White River Conference Center, I got to tour the half completed facility last year, and you should see it now, unbelievable! So after my morning run it was onto the Wellness Conference, I met some super folks there!
Thursday I went for a run and saw a beautiful track at one of the local high schools. A gate was opened so I ran onto the track and noticed a cart with someone getting things ready for the football teams practice. You talk about a beautiful track! I thought to myself I wonder how many laps I will run before I'm kicked off and asked to leave as I've been asked to many times before on public school tracks! I ran right by the guy and not a word, and I'm thinking well that's a good sign! I then got on the back stretch and started doing some 100 meter stride outs when I saw the grounds keeper and his cart coming right at me, but instead of kicking me off he handed me a bottle of ice cold water! Now that's my kind of town!
Thursday evening I went to supper with Danny and his wife Crystal, daughter Hannah, and son Brian. It was so good to see all of them and get caught up as they have become such great friends of Jilly and I!
Friday morning I did an early morning interview on the local NBC TV station KYTV3 with anchorman Paul Adler. Paul is an accomplished runner himself and ran the Bass Pro Marathon on Sunday. After my interview it was off for an early morning run. That afternoon myself along with my friend Frank Shorter, yes that Frank Shorter, 1972 Gold medal winner in the Olympic Marathon went to Danny's printing company, First Impressions. We met his staff for some pictures and autographs then it was on to Boys and Girls Town of Missouri along with another good friend Chris Gillespie, founder of Team 413. All of us told a story or two to the kids and then after our talks we enjoyed visiting with the kids and signed autographs for them. They are such a sweet bunch of kids who have all been through some pretty traumatic things in their lives but Boys and Girls Town is working with them helping them get their precious young lives back, they do an incredible job! A big thanks to all of them and what they do and for letting us come out every year and visit with the kids! Definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
After our visit with the kids I went to the expo held at the Whitewater Conference Center and visited with runners and the vendors, it’s really a nice expo! That night Bass Pro hosted a wonderful reception, the highlight of that night was my visit with Jeanne Cohick who is such a wonderful person! Last year when Jilly came with me, she and Jeanne spent much time together and became good friends, Jilly so wanted to come this year again to spend time with Jeanne!
Saturday morning was the Camo Run, what fun! The runners ran 2 miles and they had various spots along the way where volunteers would throw this powdered paint like stuff at them, they came in looking like they rolled around in a paint can! They had close to 500 Moms, Dads, and kids that signed up had a super time, I know next year I'm bringing some old running clothes so I can get all "painted" up! Frank and Brian had a ball.
Saturday night was the Pasta Dinner held at the Whitewater Conference Center. Without doubt one of the best pasta dinners you will find anywhere! All you can eat, Chris, Frank, and I all spoke, they had some nice door prizes, and all that for only 10 bucks!
Sunday morning dawned perfect for running the marathon, half, relay or 5k! Cool temps, sunshine, and no wind! I ran the Maynard Cohick Half Marathon which was named after Jeanne Cohick’s amazing husband. I am very pleased with how I ran. I ran 1:30:36 on a fairly hilly course (new PR post knee replacements!) but at around 10 miles I'm saying to myself, "Richard, why didn't you taper some for this, if you had perhaps your legs wouldn't feel quite so tired!” I guess I'm not 25 anymore!
After a quick shower I returned to the finish area where Frank and I along with Jeanne helped with the awards ceremony and I was waiting for Danny as he was running his first marathon in 10 years! He finished well under 4 hours, qualified for Boston and 1st in his age group! Congratulations my friend!
It was then off to pack and then the entire Correll family drove me out to the airport for my flight back to Austin and to my Jilly and critters (Moose, Sophie, Winkie, Copper, Dexter, Neddy and Snowy)!!
What a wonderful time I had! If you’re looking for a well-run event in a beautiful area of the country, head to the Bass Pro Outdoor Fitness Festival the first weekend in November every fall, I promise you will want to come back again and again, and again! Thanks Bass Pro for the super duper time I had!
This entry would not be complete without mention of my dear friend Jerry Friesen. This time last year Jilly and I received a devastating phone call. Jerry, age 51, had a heart attack while out for a run. Jilly and I got know Jerry and his bride, Jody via Cruise to Run. Jerry and Jody are the race directors for this event. I think of Jerry every day, his amazing smile and infectious laugh. My heart and love goes out to Jody and her two girls and son. (and Zoey).