BY CORIE LYNN
As runners lined up at Lewis Field Stadium, a new Labor Day tradition was born.
This race, a 10-mile trek taking runners through Fort Hays and Frontier Park, was created by the Hays Road Runners. The group wanted to revive the tradition of a similar run that took competitors from Great Bend to Hoisington for more than 40 years.
Knowing the importance of this replacement to him, Road Runners decided to name the new run the Mac Labor Day Race for fellow Road Runner and former Fort Hays State University runner Bob McAnay.
“My friends thought it would be a good way to honor me,” he said.
McAnay has been running mid- and long-distance since he was 16, eventually competing for both Barton Community College and FHSU.
“It’s part of my life and daily existence,” he said.
The long time runner admitted, however, that he had an idea that the Road Runners would name the race for him.
He and the group had discussed reestablishing the 10-mile Labor Day run for years. Plans for this year’s race have been in the works for a year, and the Road Runners hope to continue the race next year.
McAnay explained that they expected low turnout this Labor Day as the race is only in its first year and the course is long.
“Maybe more will come back [for next year’s race],” he said. “We hope they will have fun.”
Upon arriving at the stadium, each of the approximately 31 competitors received their number and bib as well as a Hays Road Runners glass mug and Mac Labor Day Run t-shirt. The race did not have an award ceremony, so the mug served as the prize to each competitor.
The first of the runners to finish was FHSU alumnus Brett Meyer, who crossed the finish line at 54:46. He was followed by Brandon Schroeter in 1:08:48 then Russell Heitmann at 1:11:59.
Organizer Dennis Weber confirmed that the race turned out well, the course was well-chosen and that they were pleased with the turnout.
“We were expecting about 25 to 40. With the COVID and everything, you never know,” he said. “We’ll continue it every year. Hopefully we’ll get up to a hundred.”
Competitor Mel Sauer, a Hays resident, said that he joined the race because it has been so long since a 10-mile run has been held in the region.
“The second reason, the main reason,” Sauer said, “is for Bob McAnay. He’s an inspiration to young runners, and so we’re here to support him, and that’s what it comes down to. Keep it going.”
McAnay himself completed the morning’s run, coming in ninth of the male finishers.
As he and other runners crossed the finish line, friends, family and fellow runners cheered. With the morning run successfully completed, it seems that Hays can expect the Mac Labor Day Race to return next year.