Area runners brought fleet feet to Big Fun on the Bayou in downtown Batesville Saturday in the Poke Bayou 4-Miler.
Fleetest of all was Wes Greer, a Batesville orthopedic surgeon, who won in 24:12, averaging 6:03 per mile on the downtown and westside course.
This marked the 43rd running of the event, which began in the late ‘70s as a 10K and has seen a few redesigns as a 4-miler in its years in the Arkansas Grand Prix series. The course this year started and finished above Maxfield Park and behind the county library on Water Street along the bayou.
The race this year also was dedicated to the memory of local runner Andy Buschmann, who had run every one of the previous 42 with his longtime friend, Jack Heston. The running community also honored 9/11 victim Sara Low, a flight attendant on one of the World Trade Center planes and a Batesville High graduate. Heston and Buschmann’s daughter Meagan Akins shared heart-warming remembrances and inspiring life lessons in tribute.
Runners from around the state returned to renew their acquaintance with Batesville as the Grand Prix series has been on hold since last year under COVID precautions.
Sam Wilson of Wynne took second behind Greer and Batesville’s Tyler Bishop finished third. The awards had a bayou theme, with woodburned miniature oars for the top 3 men and women, crossed-oar finishers medals for all and first, second and third age group trophies.
Winning oars for the women were Brandi Moody in eighth place overall at 30:44 with Kathleen Rea of North Little Rock second (10th overall) and Marlene Chapman of Hot Springs National Park third/14th.
Main Street Batesville put on the race with proceeds to be split between the Poke Bayou Foundation and We Are 22 veterans aid organization. White River Health System was the lead sponsor, with wide support from friends of area recreation and many with connections to Buschmann.
Nearly 100 registered, with 78 finishers as many entrants encountered last-minute scheduling conflicts.
Race directors plan to rename and continue the race as the Andy Buschmann Classic.
Results are available on Facebook and at rundamentals.fitness/race-results/