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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Grueling run at Tunnel Hill

  • Cross country runners and fans turned out the morning of Saturday, May 3. The Property of Grant and Lindsay Gamster on Harpertown Lane, became the focal point of one of the toughest trail runs held in the area.
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  • Cross country runners and fans turned out the morning of Saturday, May 3. The Property of Grant and Lindsay Gamster on Harpertown Lane, became the focal point of one of the toughest trail runs held in the area.
    “There are a lot of 3 and 5K runs, but they are almost always almost always on roads. We offer something a little different, it's about enjoying nature and challenging yourself,” Lindsay Gamster said.
    “I’m a runner and Grant is an avid trail bike rider and we have four boys. It's not surprising that we are in the woods a lot.”
    The Gamsters have some 300 acres near the Shawnee National forest, “Blessed to have” as Lindsay said, and began having this event three years ago. The race route developed from mountain and dirt biking trails and ATV trails the Gamsters used.
    “We first sponsored it through our business, Vitamin T Spa, and when the business closed we decided to keep the run going. We had 110 runners last year! This year we changed the course some and it is about 4-and-a-half miles long.”
    Guy Simmons, his wife Jamie and their two children, Aydrianna and Guy III were there as a family to run.
    “Lindsay is a friend of mine,” Jamie said when asked how they had heard of the race.
    As the start time drew closer, runners were making short trotting dashes along the gravel roads or stretching muscles that would soon to be put to the test. Gathering at the start line in a field, the runners got a final review of race rules and trail conditions from Grant Gamster. When Gamster announced that one of the creek crossings was waist deep at the quickest crossing point, many runners exchanged knowing looks. Gamster stated that the racers would have to make a choice there, to win or to stay dry.
    Brought to their mark, racers started the race with a downhill dash to where the trail funneled into the woods on a trail barley wind enough for two runners abreast. Continuing downhill, the runners were soon out of sight and the race was well and truly on.
    Kevin and Ashley Dahlman of the River to River Runners Society were on hand to handle the timing and scoring of the contestants and hand the race chronometer set up at the finish line.
    About 28 minutes later, a solitary figure appeared at the end of the long field that was the home stretch of the race. At 29 minutes and 45 seconds, Brady Neiles crossed the finish line. Almost exactly a minute latter, Doug Ambler came across the finnish line. The first woman to finish was Moura Williams with a time of 36 minutes and 29 seconds. Recovering her breath enough to answer questions Williams said, “It was a good race. It was tough.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Neiles echoed her feeling.
    “It was a pretty good trail. It was fun.” Neiles said.
    A particularly inspiring sight was John Okerson of Harrisburg, who carried with him an upraised American Flag for the whole race. Questioned after the race Okerson stated the he was running for a veterans group called Red, White and Blue; a international organization aimed at enriching the lives of veterans. Okerson said he carried the flag today to honor veterans and current service personal. Another runner, who was a road race runner and attending the trail race for the first time, enjoyed the challenge.
    “It was good. It was a challenge.” Jennifer Roehm said. When asked if she was coming back next year she eagerly nodded yes.
    After the last adult runner came in, and congratulations were exchanged amongst the runners, the kids who would be participating in the Bad Lil Mamaja 1K trail run loaded up into pickups and, with their parents set off to the start line of their race.
    “We had a good turnout.” Lindsay Gamster said, “We are planning to do this again, Once a year in early May.
     

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