By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)June 15, 2017
The weather was nearly perfect for hundreds of runners who took part in the 18th annual Volkslauf 10k fun run, held Saturday on Fort Leonard Wood.
"I have to say the best part about it was crossing the river," said Brian Rodger, 16, who completed his first Volkslauf alongside several fellow members of the Waynesville High School JROTC Raiders.
The rope-guided crossings across the Big Piney River returned after a two-year absence, since they were taken out of the race due to high water in 2015 and 2016. It was a welcome return for many participants, including Rodgers.
"You got to cool off a little bit and clean up," he said.
Turnout was high for the race, which is held annually by the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment and traditionally features a variety of hills, wooded paths, mud pits and more.
"We had about 700 participants this year, which was more than last year," said Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Breen, who served as a co-director of the race with Marine Capt. Victoria Crabbe for the second consecutive year.
The big additions to this year's race were more off-road trails through the woods and man-made obstacles, including a rope wall, a monkey-bar challenge and more.
"I also thought it was awesome that they added obstacles to the course," said Ashley Anderson, who completed her seventh Volkslauf Saturday.
The course also featured more mud pits than previous years, Crabbe said.
"People will come back with some shoes missing," she said before the race.
According to online results posted by timing company bigriverracemanagement.com, Alexander Vavra, of Salem, Missouri, took first place overall with a time of 50 minutes, 4 seconds.
Jenni Aragon, of Waynesville, finished first among female runners and took eighth overall with a time of 55:56.
Among individual youth runners, Ashtin Temple, of St. Robert, took first with a time of 1:10:19. She was eighth among female runners and finished 79th overall.
In the male teams division, the Legendary Boots took first overall with an average time of 1:03:24.
The Infuze Credit Union team took first place in the female division with an average time of 1:53:03.
In the coed team division, Blood and Guts! took first place with a combined average of 1:01:13.
In the youth category, the Dirty Delta team took first with a combined average of 1:33:24.
Complete results are available on the website and on the "18th Annual Volkslauf USMC FLW June 10th 2017" Facebook page.
Crabbe said about 75 volunteers helped conduct this year's race.
"We have numerous volunteers," she said. "Not only do we have Marines here, but we also have Soldiers here who have volunteered their time and assistance."
This year's race was also a return to the traditional route, with runners starting at Car Wash Hill and ending at Happy Hollow Recreation Area.
"Last year's race, Staff Sergeant Breen and I were new to the game, so we were testing things out, trying to see what worked and didn't work," Crabbe said. "This year, I think we've got it pretty much down to a science."
"We've had a lot of assistance from the detachment, and that's been very helpful for us," Crabbe continued. "Staff Sergeant Breen has really taken this and run with it, so everything you see here today is because of him and his ingenuity."
A number of runners said they were already looking forward to next year's race.
Anderson, a staff sergeant with the Missouri National Guard Detachment 3 RSP recruitment and retention unit based in Clinton, Missouri, said she hopes to run the Volkslauf many more times.
"My parents retired here, and I went to high school here, so this is one of my favorite races. I try to do it as often as I can," she said. "If I'm not TDY next year, I'll be right back here."