Thursday morning will mark the seventh Drumstick Dash, which began in 2006 as a modest Thanksgiving Day fundraiser for Roanoke’s Rescue Mission.
Based on years past, it’s wholly justifiable to expect some surprises there. Because surprise has been a hallmark of this race.
A while back, there was a runner who had no legs. The guy wore prosthetics. I wanted to talk to him about this amazing feat, but nobody can remember his name.
In 2010, the Drumstick Dash was a venue for a well-plotted marriage proposal by David Whitt, who was running it with his then-girlfriend, Sarah Lawrence.
Unknown to her, Whitt had conspired with her parents and his to help him pop the question. As the couple rounded a corner during the 5K run, they came across their grinning dads holding a banner that said, “Sarah, will you marry me?”
The result was a delay in their race. “He totally ruined my time,” Sarah said. But who cares? She accepted and today the Whitts are hitched.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of all, however, is the amazing growth of the Drumstick Dash since its inception.
That first year, 1,700 runners competed. For the next two years, that number more than doubled each year. This year they are expecting a whopping 16,500, almost 10 times the inaugural race.
Perhaps no single person is more responsible for that amazing growth than Kevin Spencer, a humble Roanoke schoolteacher who’s pretty difficult to embarrass. He used to be a fat guy but he is no longer. He got slim while walking, then running while listening to Bible verses on a Walkman.
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