Different Kinds of Winners

Masterpiece Fitness celebrated the Fourth Annual New River Duathlon Saturday, August 2nd, 2014. What great folks showed up to participate! We had great support from our local athletes, and many from surrounding areas. Our winner was a student from Germany, Viktor Kimmel who competed as an individual and gave a great performance. I was able to share the event with two of my sons and my future daughter-in law which made this year special for me personally.
There are so many great stories behind our athletes, and I often wish we could let everyone just share why and how they came to participate. One couple in particular stands out to me this year. Steve Shupe is the manager at the local Applebees in Galax. I met him by stopping by last year and asking for a door prize for the duathlon. I was overwhelmed by his generosity. He comes out with cards for each race packet for free fries I think it was and 4 gift certificates for $25.00! He and another employee ended up signing up and participating as a team. When I did the Matthews Trail Run, again he generously supported it and shared with me his wife, Sherry had open heart surgery last year, but her dream was to do the duathlon this year with her husband after seeing husband/wife teams participate. I was deeply moved by his story. When I stopped by for door prizes for the duathlon Steve gave around $300.00 in gift certificates for the race! Again, I was overwhelmed by his generosity. He wasn’t sure at that time if Sherry would be able to come. He mentioned doing it as a team with someone else. However, on race day just before we shut down registration, here comes another couple. I was so busy I just heard my volunteer say, “This guy is registered as an individual, but wants to change it to a team.” I groaned thinking that is all Mike Morris needs as he was trying to get everyone registered in the computer our first time before the race, and still have time to set up for timing. Then I saw who it was! It was Sherry and Steve! I was thrilled to death! I told them we would do what it took which Mike and Jennifer so graciously did. Steve was doing the run and Sherry biking.

I did our pre-race meeting while my volunteers got the computers set for times. Everyone was off! I tried to oversee the many different stations we had going and cheer on as many participants as possible. I didn’t see Sherry or Steve again at the race, but one of my volunteers ran up to me and said we still had a biker out. We were greatly concerned so I called a volunteer from Fries, Carroll Dean Hines, who was patrolling the trail in his golf cart and asked him to find that biker! He informed me he was behind her, and it was Sherry. He assured me she was fine. I was so relieved, and continued on with preparing for results and trophies. I was informed that the Shupe Team would be a DNF meaning did not finish. Steve had developed severe blisters on the first run, but Sherry had completed the bike ride. I was deeply grieved by the fact we weren’t able to celebrate their finish.

After I saw my children off that evening, I called Steve to make sure they were ok. He told me he had ridden a bike to meet Sherry and was able to finish with her on the bike. I was thrilled! He said at that point he could barely walk from the blisters he developed on the first run. He said he had gotten his socks and feet wet in his yard that morning before the race.

After hanging up with Steve I contemplated on all different kinds of winners we had that day. I assured Steve even though they didn’t receive a trophy, and he wasn’t able to finish his second run he and Sherry were definitely among the winners. They were winners by showing up and doing their best. Sherry was a winner when she completed 21 miles on a bike with her loving husband beside her. .I agonized over the fact I couldn’t be there to see their finish on the bikes and have the privilege of cheering them on. But then I realized they didn’t need anyone else there; they had each other. They were definitely among the winners that day.

There are so many people that make this event possible each year. Masterpiece Fitness wants to thank the New River Trail and all their employees for the hard work they do that keeps the trail in such great shape for all of us to enjoy. Please don’t complain about parking fees. That money goes to our local trails, not big government, and enables our guys to keep doing the great job they do. When you see the maintenance crews out there working stop long enough to say thank you. They need to know they are appreciated. They also help keep our bikers safe crossing the road at low water bridge each year.

We want to thank the town of Fries, the Parks and Recreation Dept., and Fries Rescue Squad for hosting and providing lunch. We appreciate the Rescue Squad for volunteering their time and treating several of our participants for small issues that cropped up during the event. We appreciated Bobby Jones for directing traffic and keeping everyone safe crossing on main street.

We appreciate all our wonderful sponsors who we could not do without each year. They are as follows: David and Marie Isom, Fries Riverside Deli, Blue Cat on the New, Fries Bike Shop Rentals, Integricode, Hilltop Centre, Galax Running Club, and Hortons Supermarket. We received a very generous door prize from Adams jewelry as we have every year. Applebees of Galax, The Smokehouse Barbecue, and Bogeys gave gift certificates. Lisa’s Carwash was a late sponsor also giving free carwashes for door prizes. These folks generosity blessed many people!

Lastly, I want to thank volunteers who worked tirelessly during the event. Special thanks goes to Mike Morris and Jennifer for coming and doing race day registration. Mike worked with me and Ultra sign up all during preparation for online timing and registration. I could not have made it without him. Barbara and Mike Spears have been faithful every year since the first duathlon. Karen Porter and Tori Lindberg have become faithful timers for not only the duathlon, but the trail run as well. I want to thank our volunteer photographers who caught memories for so many people. A special thanks to Mike Hutchison who does many things behind the scenes months before the event such as flier and registration forms. He is my right hand during the event. I won’t try to name each one, but you know how much you are appreciated. Hortons Supermaket always provides bagels, and fruit since the first duathlon. They have for the Matthews Trail Run as well. Special thanks goes to the Gideons for the pocket Bibles provided by Junior Anderson for each race packet. Marie Isom has been a tremendous help since the first duathlon. I could not have done without her guidance and her contacts. It is a community function and I love seeing how our area works together and supports this event. Hats off to all.

I really struggled this year getting it all done, and even confessed I was not going to go through all the hurdles you are constantly having to jump to make it all come together. But the Shupe couple alone made it worth all the hard work, and I feel sure all my volunteers agree. If you asked my sponsors I am sure they would as well. We will all come together as a community once again next year, Lord willing, and try to make the Fifth Annual the best ever! Hope to see everyone there and learn about more “different kinds of winners” who make it all worth it.

Teresa Roberts

Masterpiece Fitness