Article by John Mackey | Photos by Olivia Boyd
The City of Mansfield and it’s newly appointed Mayor wanted to hit the road running to serve the community. Literally, not just figuratively, that’s what happened in the early morning hours of June 30.
With the backing of a long list of volunteers, Mayor Michael Gipson welcomed an enthusiastic group of runners for the Mayor’s 1st Annual 5K road race. The initiative was designed as a fun, active way to involve the community and benefit the Mansfield Fire Department in the process.
“It was a wonderful turnout,” Gipson stated following the 7:30 AM start. “The volunteers and community really jumped on board to help the town.”
According to Gipson, the road race was just the start of a larger list of planned activities to get the city moving in one direction.
“Right now, we plan on having something each month,” Gipson continued with a passionate profession. “We’ve got permission to host a cane pole only fishing derby at the City Lake on August 4. That’s the next thing on the list. We want to get the kids involved, and find other activities to get the whole community involved.”
The winner of the inaugural race that zig-zagged through the streets of Mansfield was no surprise to avid race enthusiasts. Recent Mansfield High School graduate and newly enrolled Southeastern Oklahoma State University cross country athlete, Megan Rose, won the event.
“It was the best birthday ever,” Rose beamed as she let it slip that the early morning race was being conducted on her 18th birthday. “It was a good turnout for the first ever Mayor’s race. The course was pretty easy until that hill by the bus garage. The downhill part was much better especially to the finish line.”
Mansfield freshman to be, Faith Rainwater, had similar sentiments when discussing her third place overall finish.
“It was fun, but it hurt my feet running on the concrete,” Rainwater, a two year veteran of cross country that’s primarily run on grass, explained. “That hill was pretty hard, but I’m happy I got the opportunity to run.”
Brandy Jeffrey received the runner-up plaque crossing the finish line about two and a half minutes behind Rose’s winning time of 23:43. After Faith Rainwater’s third place finish, her twin sister Hope came in fourth.
Shelby Cole and Natalie Allison completed the course in consecutive order just behind the fourth place Rainwater.
There were nearly 20 total runners that participated in the 3.1 mile equivalent in support of the city’s fire brigade.
“We really had good support,” the Mansfield Mayor emphasized. “The first three sponsors I asked stepped up. I didn’t have to go any further for donations.”
Each runner received a t-shirt and a participation plaque. The top three runners received larger awards signifying their order of finish.
Corporate sponsorship came from Duck’s Body Shop, Bearden Properties, and Derick Allison Attorney at Law. Today’s Bank provided free bottles of water at the finish line to runners and volunteers.
Local churches along the race route provided water stations during the contest. Members of the Mansfield fire and police departments served as course officials and traffic control.
Mansfield school board member Trent Hayslip cooked a pancake breakfast as part of the post race activities for all runners and volunteers.