Tim Kennard event lesson: ‘Yes you can’

The annual Tim Kennard run is scheduled March 1.

Registration is open for the annual Tim Kennard 10-Mile River Run and 5K Run-Walk scheduled for March 1.

This is the 12th year for the popular race, in memory of Kennard, who died of renal cancer in 2004. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and usually attracts 1,000 runners and walkers, said Harlan Eagle, who is planning it with Linda Mills and Ken Gaudreau.

Participants will gather at Maggs Gym at Salisbury University and leave from TCBY near SU. Each runner pays a registration fee and sponsors also donate. Registration instructions and details are at www.timkennard.org.

This year, proceeds will benefit Coastal Hospice, for pediatric cases and  grieving children who lost a sibling or parent to cancer; Salisbury Horizons Student Enrichment Program, for children from economically disadvantaged families; Coalition of Caring, to help animals in need; and VSCOA PAWS, to  teach disabled homeless veterans to train homeless rescue dogs to become service dogs.

“Tim was a friend of ours and when we heard he was diagnosed with cancer we told him we wanted to have a race and he said to make it the best race we could in Salisbury. He told us to help kids and animals.  He gave us a mission statement,” Eagle said, adding Kennard loved animals.

Mills said organizers will ask city officials to close Mill Street and part of Riverside Drive for the event.

Kennard, she said, who had at least five dogs, regularly donated to the Humane Society. He was employed as a salesman for Geiger Pump and Equipment and was 47 when he died.

Two years ago, she formed Coalition of Caring to meet needs of abused or neglected animals. “It’s something Tim would have liked,” she said, calling Kennard “one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, always so witty.”

“He had a wit about him. He was a very quick thinker. He always made people laugh. He was a very positive person.”

Monty Sayler, who has run in many of the Kennard races since it began,  praised the organizers for “doing a great job  with it.”

It started as a tribute to Kennard, who Sayler called “a wonderful man” and has grown into a community event in early March, as thoughts turn to spring.

“Everybody sort of looks forward to that race. I’ve run in most of them. I work for the Bank of America and it’s a sponsor. We’ve been a sponsoring it  for many years. It’s for a great cause. It’s an honor to be able to be a sponsor and to participate,” said Sayler.

At age 52, he said his goal is to finish in the top three in his age category. “A couple years I’ve managed to do that, but there are a  lot of good runners,” he said.

Salisbury’s Jenni Pastusak will be in the race this year, for the fourth time. She got involved because she used to work for Horizons, one of the beneficiaries, and strongly supports it.

Although she wasn’t previously a runner, she trained, registered for the 10-mile portion and enjoyed it so much she started running for exercise.

“I was so excited because I came in first for my age group. I crossed the finish line and I noticed (only) one girl had passed me,” she said.

While congratulating her, Pastusak asked her age, and was thrilled to learn the winner wasn’t in her category, making Pastusak the winner.

“I was like, ‘Yes.’ I realized I placed first. I trained pretty hard. I became a serious runner then, very quickly,” she said.

Last year, she completed 10 miles  in 1 hour, 16 minutes and 31 seconds. At mile eight, she felt an urgent need to use the restroom and stopped at a stranger’s house.

“All these people were outside watching the race and I asked if anyone had a bathroom. This woman was so nice. She took me into her house and let me use her bathroom. I never went so fast in my life, so I could get back out there,” she said, laughing.

The event, she said, is well organized, with drinking water stands for participants, and strong community support.

Although she didn’t know Kennard, Pastusak said his courageous battle against cancer strengthened her.

“When you feel like, ‘I can’t go any farther’ something ignites in your head and you think about the person who you’re running for,” she said.

“You realize, ‘Oh, yes you can. Look at the person and everything he went through.’”


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