It could not be a more South Dakota race.
Think of it: The dead of winter. Routes determined the morning of to avoid a headwind. A huge community chili and soup meal afterward. Families welcome. And, of course, an outstanding T-shirt with some kind of animal running in a scarf and mittens.
(Tip: This year, the shirt is red and the animal is a penguin.)
It’s the Frostbite Four, a 4-mile race in Beresford, S.D.
The race began the same way all the best ideas do, as the miles went by: A group of friends went out for a run the day of the Super Bowl. “They were like, man, it’s such a nice day, and it’s too bad nobody has an event in the winter,” said Troy Swee, race director.
So they started one.
This is the 18th year for the race, and usually about 400 runners show up to compete. It traditionally has benefited the Beresford Booster Club, and runners have raised more than $75,000 over the years. This year $5 of each entry will go to the American Heart Association. That’s also why the shirts are red.
The Go Red events, which bring awareness to heart health, kick off on Feb. 3. Swee said he heard the association was looking for a February fundraiser, and they jumped on board. “It escalated quickly,” Swee laughs. He’s asking runners to wear red to the event.
It was a natural fit.
“The two organizations really have the same goal,” Swee said. “Most people who are runners are very heart and health-conscious, so we will have a local heart attack survivor as our honorary starter this year.”
“We are incredibly grateful to be named as a charity partner for this year’s Frostbite Four event,” said Chrissy Meyer, communications director for the heart association. “The running community in the Sioux Empire is incredibly generous, and we are so thankful to the organizers, participants and volunteers who are so kindly contributing to our mission to save lives. Heart disease is still the No.1 killer of all South Dakotans, and events like this help the American Heart Association by not only raising mission-critical funds, but also by helping to spread the word that heart disease is 80 percent preventable.”
Swee said the board of directors is always looking for ways to improve the race. Last year there was a photo booth, and it was was popular enough they are bringing it back this year.
He’s also had people ask for more options at the lunch following the race – aside from the traditional (and amazing) homemade chicken noodle soup and chili. They will add either fresh fruit or salad this year, he said.
Runners who have stood at the starting line in Beresford know they put on an outstanding event. Swee knows, too, but he also knows it couldn’t be done without all the volunteers. He estimates there are about 40 volunteers on race day, doing everything from standing in the cold directing runners to helping with registration and the finishing chute. He’s committed to that.
“If you’re a runner, you know how frustrating it is to have a poorly run race,” Swee said.
And, of course, there are the buses. It takes eight buses with eight drivers to shuttle runners from the school to whichever corner has a tailwind. That’s maybe the greatest part of the race (after the soup): It’s so gloriously South Dakota. You can’t ignore the wind. And you can’t curse at it all day. And you have to fight it enough, so the Frostbite Four’s gift to you, for coming out in February, is to at least make sure it’s at your back.
And for that we’re all grateful.
If you go:
What: Frostbite Four
Distance: 2 miles and 4 miles
Time: 11 a.m.
When: Saturday, Feb. 4
Where: Beresford High School, 301 W. Maple St, Beresford, SD
Registration: Online or day of race
Post-race events: Free chili and chicken noodle soup feed for all participants at the Bridges at Beresford Golf Course Club House, with entertainment provided by the Crabgrass Crew of Sioux Falls.
Jacqueline Palfy is a longtime runner, reader and writer, marathoner, mom and board member of the nonprofit Sioux Falls Area Running Club. Her contributions to the 605 Running Co. blog will appear each Tuesday. You can follow her on Twitter @runnerJPK or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Story ideas are encouraged
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