Petal Mayor Tony Ducker recently announced two new health-themed initiatives for The Friendly City: the institution of the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and the inaugural Run the River Ultra Challenge & Relay event.
Ducker was joined on May 6 at Petal River Park by new council members Lacey Saul, Tom Hardges, Susan Dobson and Hal Harrington. Ducker said the council is aimed at adding more events for residents of Petal who are outdoor- and physical fitness-oriented.
“(The council) all started with the idea that The City of Petal is full of active people, but lacking in events to express it,” Ducker said. “We basically had one signature event; it’s the Petal Children’s Task Force 5K each February.
“I have been encouraged by the recent additions of other 5Ks, but my hope is through this council, we will be better able to support these physical activity events, and even add more to them. Understand that these are not budget-busters, but events that will not only bring people to our town, but also give our citizens abilities and opportunities to enjoy our incredible parks. ”
Combined, the four members of the Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness have participated in 11 marathons – including Dobson, who has taken part in the Boston Marathon – 32 half marathons, 12 Iron Man competitions, one 50K (Saul) and climbing Mount Everest on one bike ride (Harrington). In addition, Hardges served in the military for 21 years, along with the same stint in the City of Petal Parks and Recreation Department.
The Run the River Ultra Challenge & Relay will take place from 7:30 am-2:30 pm Oct. 29 at Petal River Park. Teams of one, two or three to four members will be able to walk on the park’s tails for six hours.
The 2.5-mile loop course will bring walkers through the river, lagoons, wetlands, palmetto fields and train trestles. The event is family-friendly and open to any individual at any sporting level. Teams compete by finishing as many loops as possible before the cutoff time.
Only one team member can be on course at a time, but teams can complete the loops at any pace, using any strategy they like, and a full lap has to be completed in the six-hour time limit to be counted. Each team will have their own party / rest zone on site.
From here, team members can cheer for their runners as they come out of the woods and make the last stretch along the meadow to the finish. Divisions will include male and female for individuals, and teams and groups can be all male, female or co-ed.
“We want to make it available to anybody,” Saul said. “If it’s your first Ultra, you might just come out and walk it, but as many times as people can do the laps in six hours, that’s all we ask of you.
“But the goal is to have fun and do something that stands out within the city in this unique terrain we have here in Petal. So we’re excited to announce that. We have a lot more logistics to plan out, but we have the basic stuff done; we’re ready to move forward and get as many sign-ups as possible. ”
Registration can be completed online at https://bit.ly/39wPz4n for a fee of $ 65 for individuals or teams.
“For those of you that have never been out (to Petal River Park) before, The City of Petal really has a jewel here; our trails are so well kept, ”Harrington said. “Lacey and I were out here scouting the course a couple of months ago, and… there is not a lot of rocky places, and it’s really soft terrain.
“There’s not a lot of hills, but enough up and downs to make you enjoy it, and it’s really, if you will, an artistic course. I felt going through it like there were paintings here and there, and you trail runners will know what I’m talking about. ”