First-time Crazy 8s runner Teresa Darnell, left, entered a group program offered by Fleet Feet and, while the program has ended, she still meets with members of the group for Tuesday evening runs. (Greg Peters photo)
KINGSPORT — The countdown to the Indian Path Medical Center & CrestPoint Health Crazy 8s 8K has begun.
Actually, for those in training for the Fun Fest race, the countdown started a couple of weeks ago.
A drive down Fort Henry Drive on the weekends or after work sees an increase in the number of runners training for that 9:58 p.m. start on July 13.
The number of entrants grows each year — there were more than 3,800 in 2011 — and each year that group is comprised of a mixture of talent, purpose and motivation.
There are runners looking for the $10,008 Regional Eye Center World Record Bonus and those just entering their first race. If every picture tells a story, it is the same with runners. They each have a story or reason for lacing up and racking up miles.
Teresa Darnell is one of those making her first entry to the Crazy 8s field. Just over six months ago she wanted to try something different and challenging. And running was her choice.
“I’ve always hated running, or said I did anyway,” Darnell said. “But I thought I would give it a chance and join a group. So I joined a group, and when you join a group you are more committed.
“And being stubborn once I commit, I will do it or die.”
Darnell entered a group program offered by Fleet Feet and, while the program has ended, she still meets with members of the group for Tuesday evening runs.
She ran her first race earlier this month, a half-marathon. Not the first race you would think a beginner would opt for, but postponements and vacations made that her race of choice.
“I was very apprehensive about the race, but afterwards I was glad I did it and felt a great sense of accomplishment,” Darnell added.
Living in Nickelsville and commuting to Bristol for her job as a paralegal does not waylay her training or mileage.
And as for her hopes for her first Crazy 8s race ...
“I’m running just for the experience and fun. I know that there will be a lot of competitive runners, but I’m not one of those,” Darnell said.
Come race night, you will find Teresa in the crowd of several thousand racers with several thousand stories.