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October 14, 2013

First 'Best Dam' 5k a colorful success

By Lucy Bayly Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — “I’m pretty sure he double-dog-dared me,” laughed Loraine Reed when asked how she and her 9-year-old son, Tristan, came to run the inaugural “Best Dam” Downsville Color Run 5k on Saturday. “But it was a great opportunity to do something together, and a good thing for the community.”

Organized by three Downsville-based business owners and fitness enthusiasts, Sarah Hood of Head to Toe Fitness Studio, Katie Mattson of ChiroKatie, and Stacie Haynes, Saturday’s 5k walk/run was created with a two-fold purpose: to promote fitness in the community and to raise funds for a local beautification project. 

“Sarah is the spark of creative energy our town needed,” Joyce Spector of Downsville said Saturday. “She is a very, very special young woman.”

This year’s proceeds will be donated to the Pepacton Park Committee, a local group whose plans include creating an official bike trail and walking loop along the east branch of the Delaware River to the covered bridge and on to Main Street.

“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support from our small community,” gushed Hood of the sponsors, volunteers, neighbors, family and friends who helped make the event a success. “From Chobani, UHS and Kraft, to the fire department, local Girl Scout troop and businesses up and down Main Street, everyone expressed how happy and proud they were to see what we are doing for our community, which only fueled us more.”

The race drew just over 230 registered participants. The top male runner was Henry Reurich, 29, of Oneonta, with a time of 20:26:9. Tops for women was Stephanie Shellman of East Branch, who clocked in at 23:16:5. Many runners came from Downsville or the surrounding area, but bibs were also issued for runners from downstate and the capital region, as well as a few from out of state. Complete results are available at  

The walk and run brought out a range of ages, shapes, generations and fitness levels. Rosemary Brannen, 58, was one of many locals inspired to sign up for her very first 5k. “I originally planned to do this as a walk,” she laughs. “But Sarah and Katie convinced me I could run it.” 

To prepare, Brannen joined Head to Toe Fitness Studio’s eight-week 5k training program, which included race-specific exercises, breathing control and progressively longer runs. “They were amazing,” says Brannen of her instructors. “They truly supported us in our efforts. I would never have imagined I would run a 5k. But now I’m down one dress size and so proud of myself for being able to do this.”

Joining her in the race was her granddaughter, Quinnie Shields, 14, who heard about the run through yoga classes she attended at Head to Toe Fitness. Shields signed up for the 5k, her first, with other members of her school’s cross country team. Together, they prepped for the race by running at least three miles a day for the four weeks leading up to the event. 

“The 5k was an awesome event for Downsville to have,” Shields said. “It really brought the community together and will only continue to get bigger and better in years to come.”

Scheduled to coincide with the town’s annual Maple Leaf Festival, the Downsville 5k kicked off a weekend of fall fun for all ages. Vendors lined the streets selling everything from maple products to homemade soaps, handmade jewelry, local produce and antiques.

Runners were treated to a hay ride to the top of Markert’s Hill, offering up scenic views for miles and miles, overlooking Downsville, the Pepacton Reservoir, and the 5k race course, which one could say was the “best dam” view in town.