Endurance relay a new challenge for runners

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Juan Martinez of Louisville, right, finishes his last lap carrying Evelyne Artibee, 5, of Linton, during the 6-Hour Endurance Relay at the Jasper Parklands on Saturday.


JASPER — What were you doing at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday?

Dressed in shorts and running shoes, 84 runners from across the Midwest had just begun an odyssey of a race that would carry them into the early afternoon. They gathered before sunrise at the Parklands of Jasper for a long-distance relay unlike any the area has seen before.

Their universal goal was to churn out more loops around the park’s 1.6-mile, paved course than competitors in their division during a six-hour time frame, with the opportunity to switch out after each lap completed.

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Seemingly, however, none of the athletes’ personal goals were the same, and discussing their drives for running opened windows into their lives. Because for many, the sport means much more than burning calories.

The event was organized by the DC Multisport nonprofit and aims to become an annual draw for years to come. Teams of two, four and six people competed in divisions at the race, and all proceeds went to the Parklands’ maintenance endowment.

Half of the 20 teams in the contest hailed from Dubois County, while the others came from places like Central Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Runners take off at the start of the Parklands 6-Hour Endurance Relay in Jasper on Saturday.

Clint and Reese Brosmer of Indianapolis were a father-daughter duo who covered a total of 20 laps around the track, equating to 32 miles. Clint accounted for about 27 miles, while Reese — who is 8 years old — ran roughly five of them.

Jayme Brosmer, Clint’s wife and Reese’s mother, also jogged the hilly course with Reese as an unofficial member of the team. Mom and Dad are high school sweethearts, having met at Northeast Dubois High School, and they see the activity as a way of passing on life lessons to their daughter.

“I think my husband and I both feel like we’ve learned so much through running, and we want our kids to learn hard work, and pushing through, and determination,” Jayme said at the relay. “How good it feels when you accomplish your goal. And I think running is a great way to be outside and be in nature and to learn those things.”

Timothy Ringwald ran farther than ever before at the Saturday event. The Loogootee man had never jogged more than 20 miles at one time during his five-year running career, but in the long-distance relay, he covered more than a marathon — about the distance from his home to the Parklands.

His race partner was his wife, Shelly, though Timothy did the majority of the running for their two-person team. He didn’t train harder than his normal routine for the competition, and he approached it with a “lets see what happens” attitude.
A pair of blisters and charley horses later, “27.2 [miles] is what happens,” Timothy said with a smile.

Like many in attendance, Ben Nowotarski of Jasper had never competed in an endurance relay before. He enjoyed the uniqueness of the contest, and his team used it as a way to prepare for a similar relay in the future. Chatting with resting teammates — he competed in a group with three others who connected through CrossFit training — was fun, and the race format provided a new challenge that kept him engaged.

Jasper native Jayme Brosmer, left, cheers for her daughter, Reese, 8, and her husband, Clint, with their family, Anna Mehringer, 3, center, Reese's sister, Nora Brosmer, 5, Lisa Mehringer, and Grant Mehringer, 6, all of Jasper, during the Parklands 6-Hour Endurance Relay in Jasper on Saturday.

“It’s just different than going out and running [by] yourself,” he said near the end of Saturday’s race. “Whether it’s a 5K or a mini, or whatever. It’s a lot of fun.”

Mary Nienaber of Newburgh runs every Saturday with three other women. They are seasoned, ultramarathon runners, and each wanted to run the entirety of the six-hour Parklands race by themselves. They settled on breaking into two pairs that entered the two-person division.

Nienaber ran a 100-miler so quickly last November that she landed on UltraRunning Magazine’s fastest 100-mile times. Still, running is a therapeutic exercise for her.

It’s like group therapy when she works out with her friends, she said. They help each other make decisions; share stories about spouses, kids and work; and they support each other and deepen their bonds.

“I think we’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders, for sure,” said Beth Heubner of Evansville, who runs with Nienaber and also entered the Parklands race.

After it wrapped up, teams assembled nearby at The Schnitz Brewery & Pub for an award ceremony to celebrate a successful morning that benefited a good cause. Organizers expect the event to grow in future years.

“I think the big endurance stuff — whether it’s biking, running or swimming — those people are always looking for new challenges,” said Aaron Songer, a DC Multisport board member. “But I also think that one of the things that we try to promote with DC Multisport is activity in the community. And so we tried to make the race where people don’t have to be somebody that is doing these epic events.

“They can get together and just do it, just to enjoy each other.”

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