Fayette County

Five runners celebrate their 40th Bluegrass 10,000

Bob Barnes.
Bob Barnes.

The Bluegrass 10,000 celebrates its 40th year, Monday, taking contestants through downtown Lexington as a kickoff to the city’s Fourth of July festivities. As 40 years passed, runners came and went, but several have run every year.

Five of those runners plan to continue their streak with this year’s race. They each shared some of their memories, tips and secrets to their success.

Robert Henthorne, 59, a Lexington native, started running shortly before the first Bluegrass 10,000, after his father had a heart attack at the age of 50. The 10K was also his first race, so he is sentimental about competing.

“I look forward to the BG 10,000 each year,” Henthorne said. “Also, the BG 10,000 is such a nice race because it has remained loyal to the local, Lexington-area runner.”

Christie Robinson, 74, of Georgetown, said once she and her husband, Dick Robinson, ran the first race, they enjoyed the experience and camaraderie during and after the run so much that they decided to keep the streak going. In 2011, Robinson’s husband was killed in an accident, and the race took on another meaning.

Following the 2011 race after which my husband was killed in a bicycle accident, I decided to run, or walk, in as many as possible in his memory.

Christie Robinson, 74, Georgetown

“Following the 2011 race, after which my husband was killed in a bicycle accident, I decided to run, or walk, in as many as possible in his memory,” she said.

While they reflected on some memories of how they first got involved with the race, the runners also shared some close calls when they were almost unable to run.

Lexington native Bob Barnes, 73, said the closest he’s come to not participating was in 1994, when he had an open stasis ulcer. Luckily for him, his doctor approved his participation if he walked that year instead, which he did.

Frances Ross, 63 (whose birthday is July 4), almost didn’t enter the race in 1988, because her daughter was born by C-section on June 7, which gave her less than 30 days to recover.

“But I was determined to keep my streak alive,” Ross said. “I walked most of the course that year, and find walking the race quite pleasant.”

Preparing to run a 10K can be the most crucial part to optimizing one’s chances of winning the race, or even being able to endure it.

Tim Bailey, 58, prepares with a meal consisting of two simple components.

My pre-game meal is a half biscuit, strawberry jam and a medium Coke.

Tim Bailey, 58, Owingsville

“My pre-game meal is a half biscuit, strawberry jam and a medium Coke,” said Bailey, who is from Owingsville.

Barnes recommends getting a lot of sleep the night two days before the race, as he usually doesn’t sleep well the night before the race itself.

His breakfast the day of the race is typically a banana, a hard-boiled egg, oatmeal or cream of wheat, one or two cups of black coffee and water.

Others also advocated drinking plenty of water in order to stay hydrated.

“Training adequately and staying well hydrated is the best preparation for the race,” Henthorne said. “I usually have pasta or rice for dinner the night before the race and I drink coffee and a sports drink in the morning on race day.”

For those participating for the first time, or even those seeking some words of advice from someone who’s run the race for years, Ross said to go out and challenge yourself and then enjoy your accomplishment for the rest of the holiday.

Bailey offered some advice specifically for first-time runners.

“If it is their first 10K, lay back in the middle of the pack and enjoy it, take it in,” he said. “There is no other race that is this much fun.”

Yet the question remains, why have the five of them continued to run every year?

Barnes said running helps keep him in shape, and that he’s committed to the race. Bailey is almost entirely consumed by racing as he said he usually runs about 30 races a year. The Bluegrass 10,000is one of the races he tries to have fun with.

Ross, however, said she’s doing it out of tradition.

“Enduring for 40 years is a pretty good streak, and now I just want to keep it alive,” Ross said. “It’s become a tradition for my July 4th.”

Andrew Henderson: 859-231-3424, @a_henderson1864