VILONIA — Pouring rain didn’t damper the spirits or stop the efforts of the 120 or so runners and walkers who participated in the inaugural Every Soul Matters 5K, Saturday morning, sponsored by the First Assembly of God in Vilonia.
Shortly before 8 a.m., participants began lining up. Ages varied from toddlers to almost 80. Some of the runners are members of the church, yet, many were not. Some runners came from Conway and surrounding communities. Ed McNeal drove in from Maumelle.
Vilonia Police Officers served as escorts. Members of the Vilonia Fire Department provided water and first aid stations. A portion of U.S. Highway 64 was marked with white arrows dictating the route.
Some pondered whether the weather would cancel the run. With rain peppering down, Pastor Jim King said, he didn’t see any reason for despair.
“This is not a lightning event,” he said. “Runners are here to run.”
Vilonia resident Barry Eason was in agreement. Temperature wise, he said, the weather was ideal. He talked about the weather, two weeks ago, when he ran in a half-marathon in Hawaii where he said he sweated plenty.
“You got a lot of amateur runners here, which might be bothered a bit by the weather,” he said. “The ones who run—this is perfect.”
An event volunteer sounded off by saying, “runners up front, walkers behind.” Organizer Bethany Taff sounded the air horn for the race to begin. She depended on a running watch for recording runners’ time. Well within 30 minutes, a handful of runners were making their way back to the parking lot. Jacob Baker and Loren Traylor, both of Conway, came in first with Baker in the lead. Kallesta Roberts of Vilonia, garnered the best time for the women’s division.