Runners hit the trail for ROC 7K Trail Run

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COLUMBIA — Runners took on the cold Saturday morning for the ROC 7K Trail Run at Cosmo Park's Rhett's Run.

Event coordinator Stacey Kulik said 175 runners signed up and all different levels of runners participated in the event.

“Running is a trending sport right now,” Kulik said. “There’s a lot of people that are, more and more people that are becoming involved in running, and taking that on as either a hobby or their fitness or their preferred sport. So just in general as a sport, running is becoming more popular.”

Somaly Moore came from Arizona and ran in the race for the first time.

“I look forward to running in the cold, in the woods, it’s going to be exciting,” Moore said. “Maybe I’ll get to see some different animals out there, I have no clue but maybe I’ll see a squirrel, and a lot of people.”

Another runner set a personal goal for himself.

“I would like to finish top three in my age group, so that’s kind of the goal I set for myself,” runner Casey Scott said. “It’s my first time running in Columbia, I’m sure there will be a lot of good challengers out there to race against, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how I stack up against them.”

According to Columbia Parks and Recreation, Rhett's Run is designed for mountain biking but also makes a fun running trail because of its varying terrain.

During the 4.3 mile run, ROC runners experienced hills, rocks, roots, grass and some gravel.

This was 11-year-old Mackenzie Haupt's first gravel race. 

"My mom never let me gave up, so even when I really wanted to walk and I just really felt it and I really wanted to give up, she just didn't let me and she kept pushing me harder and harder," Haupt said. 

The trail run was timed and the top male and female runners as well as the top three males and females in each age group received ceramic medallion awards that a local ceramicist made.

Runner Kimberly Earnest won one of the awards and said she really enjoys trail running. 

"I won first place overall female today," Earnest said. "It's just a great race out here put on by the Columbia Parks and Rec, it's a great course. And just really enjoyed being out here racing with some friends that I knew."

Flags in trees, arrow signs, kilometer markings and volunteers helped guide runners on the trail.

Volunteers at a first aid station also had water and medical supplies.

A bonfire helped keep runners warm at the Antimi Shelter in the park, where the race started and finished.

Lucky's Market offered an oatmeal bar once runners crossed the finish line.

Runners paid $35 in advance to participate, and the profits go to recreation programming. 

According to Columbia Parks and Recreation, the ROC 7K Trail Run Schedule is the following:

Saturday, January 28, 2017
7:45-8:50 a.m.: Packet pick-up and Race Day Registration at Antimi Shelter 
9:00 a.m.: Race begins
9:30 a.m.: Post-race food available
10:15 a.m.: Awards
11:00 a.m.: Race course closes