By Peter Zuniga, Correspondent
On Saturday, Sept. 1, runners from all over the area laced up their running shoes at Confederate Park in Belton. Belton First United Methodist Church hosted their 6th annual “Labors of Love” 5k, a race created to help support the local Body of Christ Community Clinic through donation of the proceeds.
While many runners were local, others were like Rex and Mary Ann Field, who came all the way from San Antonio for the race. “We’re teachers and we’re on vacation, so we came to see some of the museums.” Mary Ann said. “For us, a run is the best way to see a town.” Both Rex and Mary Ann are avid runners, with Rex preparing for a marathon in Chicago right now.
From 8:15 to 8:45 a.m., registration was held underneath the park’s main pavilion. As more arrived, the participants were able to conversate with each other, alongside stretching and warming up in the parking lot. The race kicked off at 9 a.m., and for each participant, Kona Ice catered free shaved ice, and free water bottles were also handed out.
Tom Oliver, an Elementary Teacher at Wheatley Alternative Education Center, ended up winning the race, having come from Temple. “…the fact that I won is neat, but it’s not about that.” Oliver said. “I think it’s just about the community and everybody getting out here, and being healthy, exercising and having some fun.” Oliver also participates in triathlons and aquathons. When asked about an upcoming triathlon he is in training for, Oliver said, “It’s in New Braunfels. It’s a 300 meter swim, 15 mile bike, and a 5k run. This 5k would just be one section of it. I don’t do a whole lot of training. I do it just to get me out there and have some fun, and for the community…”
Once all the participants had finished, an awards ceremony commenced at 10 a.m. While Tom Oliver was recognized as 1st place runner overall, more awards for fastest times were distributed among the different age groups, beginning with even the youngest children who participated. At this time, it was also announced that the race had accumulated around $2,000 for the Body of Christ Community Clinic.
When asked about the church’s congregation, Pastor Jeff Miller of Belton First United Methodist Church, said, “In this specific group, I see that they really want to reach out. Worship is important on Sunday; it brings us together. But they really want to be involved in the community, helping the community.” The “Labors of Love” 5k is among a number of community service events that the church puts on or supports. The church also helps with Kairos Prison Ministry and Helping Hands Ministry. For UMHB, it also provides a free college lunch at the church every Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The race is an event created by the church, and it will continue to go on.
For those interested in competing in this race, the 7th annual “Labors of Love” 5k will be held next year in September.