Exactly one month from today runners from the area and around the nation will gather in Ardmore for the 4th Annual A2A Race For Mercy. Although still a fledgling race, the A2A has garnered top billing on the national marathon website due to the unique course and the many amenities provided through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. All those special qualities that have made the A2A a winner remain the same this year.
But on March 3, runners, volunteers and fans will find something new. The A2A is honoring one of their own with the renaming of the 5K Run.
Alison Smalley, A2A founder and race director, said the 5K has been renamed "Robbie's Run" in memory of Robbie Brooks. A staunch supporter of the A2A, Brooks tragically lost her life in a boating accident on Lake Murray in May, 2012.
"We are permanently naming the 5 K Robbie's Race forever in her memory," Smalley said. "When Robbie died we felt helpless. This makes us feel like we can do something. We have a new "Robbie's Race" logo and runner's T-shirts will feature the logo. Every runner from everywhere who runs in the 5K will know about Robbie."
Smalley said Brooks had been a part of the A2A from the race's inception. An A2A volunteer, who always gave the race her all, Brooks was also a runner and a member of a local group of women, who call themselves the "Sole Sisters." (See photo gallery of Brooks and her Sole Sisters at www.ardmoreite.com.)
While runners from 12 states have already registered, Smalley said the early date of this year's race has skipped the notice of many local people who volunteer.
"The race is a month earlier and it's sneaking up on people. We need volunteers to register," she said.
Here is the list of volunteer opportunities:
Sponsorship — open to area businesses and individuals
Registration at Expo – assist during race registration and packet pick up at convention center
Pasta Dinner – assist with planning, set-up, serving and clean-up
Trash Pick Up – assist with trash pick up along race course
Stadium Crew – assist with staging, tear-down and clean up of race sites
Registration at Stadium – assist during race registration and packet pick up at Noble Stadium
Water/Aid Stations – assist with serving water and/or sport drink to runners along course
Medical Support – for trained medical professionals to provide assistance if necessary
Gear Check – collect and transport bags of runners' clothing, etc. from start lines to stadium
Spirit Groups – bands, drill teams, cheerleaders, civic clubs, etc. to provide spirit and cheering along course
Communications – licensed ham radio operators to provide communication along course
Safety Patrol – For cyclists to patrol race route to provide assistance if necessary
Course Marshalling – direct runners along race course
Parking – direct vehicles to proper parking areas at Noble Stadium
Awards and Finish Line – assist with presentation of medals, etc. at finish line
After-race Refreshments – stage and serve refreshments to runners at finish line
"Literally hundreds of volunteers will be required for the A2A, and there is a job to fit every age and every talent. There are even opportunities for runners to help out in pre-race positions.
Like runners, volunteers must register online at www.a2amarathon.com.
Is it worth the effort to volunteer?
"The thing we are so proud of is all the reviews posted on the national website are so positive about the event and our volunteers. It speaks to the quality of the volunteers' efforts and the organization.
Proceeds from the A2A go toward purchasing equipment for the Cancer Center. It's a worthy cause that assists the Cancer Center in providing state-of-the-art treatment for cancer patients right here "at home." And if that's all the race did it would certainly be more than enough. But, Smalley said, the A2A also gives back to volunteers and runners.
"We have had email after email after email telling us how it has changed people's lives," she said.
A2A's official dedication of Robbie's Run:
The organizers of the A2A Race for Mercy lovingly dedicate and permanently rename our 5K race "Robbie's Run" in memory of Robbie Brooks. The entire advisory board of the A2A Race for Mercy grieves the loss of Robbie, beloved wife, mother, friend, and avid runner who believed in and worked for the success of the A2A from the very beginning.
On race day, Robbie's official post was always at the track entrance where her voice would finally go hoarse from her enthusiastic cheers of encouragement to the runners. Robbie was the very best example of what God intended mankind to be. She was the finest example of His handiwork.
As a runner, Robbie was like all runners; she measured her success in minutes and seconds, splits, miles, kilometers and personal records. But, Robbie, none of us will remember you because of minutes and seconds, splits, miles, kilometers or personal records. For all of us, Robbie, your true success was measured in smiles, huge laughs, hugs, enthusiasm and encouragement. Robbie, when you count those - you have run to the moon and back!
No, Robbie, we will never forget you and we will miss you always!