Quirky True Life Run proves cold yet satisfying

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Trisha Chaudhary

[media url=”https://vimeo.com/60909401″ width=”640″ height=”360″] Music by Lizzie and Neal Wright recorded live at the True Life Run. 
Video by Urmila Kutikkad
At 8:30 a.m. as the gray sky was just beginning to lighten, a crowd of runners already congregated at Flat Branch Park. The 50-or-so runners were pinning their numbers onto their shirts, pulling the free True/False T-shirts over their heads and warming up. Light and happy music filled the morning as two musicians sung and played the harmonica and guitar to encourage the runners.  Breath blew into cold hands, legs jogged in place and water bottles emptied. At 9:00 a.m. the runners gathered at the intersection of 4th Street and Cherry Street and set off at the cue from the head volunteer.
This True/False tradition is a 5K run/walk that spans the downtown of Columbia starting in Flat Branch Park and allows runners to “take in the landmarks of our fair city, offering a handful of eclectic adventures along the way,” according to the True/False website. These “eclectic adventures” included running up eight stories of a parking garage, playing red-light/green-light, doing an obstacle course and running through a maze. If runners completed all of these challenges, the volunteers recording finishing times would deduct minutes from their total. In addition, if runners could catch one of the two volunteers dressed as bunnies, the volunteer would reveal a secret word, which the runner could present at the end of the race for further time deductions. The secret word this year was actually a name: Tim Heatherington.
Each year, the True Life run donates all of its proceeds to a charity, and this year they chose Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues. Sebastian Junger established RISC after his friend and colleague, Tim Heatherington died in a bombing in Libya, while he was photographing the war. Choosing his name not only served as a tribute to the organization, but also as a way of advertising Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? This documentary covers the life of Tim Heatherington, which is showing at True/False.
Sopohmore C.J. Phillips participated in the run and managed to chase down a bunny and get this secret word. Though this was Phillips’ first time doing the True Life Run, it was his second 5K.
“I was already doing True/False and I like running so it just sort of came together,” Phillips said. The obstacles “made [the run] a lot more interesting rather than just running 3.1 miles, but [they] also made it a lot more difficult. I fell down like twice in the maze.”
The maze was the last challenge and consisted of running through a snow covered peace park that the run had transformed using neon markers on the ground. The runners ran through the parking garage at the intersection of Broadway and 4th Street, played red-light/green-light in front of Jesse Auditorium, then snaked their way around to the obstacle course by the quad, which consisted of mini hurdles, hula-hooping and jump roping. Finally, they made it to the maze, and then finished back up at Flat Branch Park, where volunteers were waiting to cheer them across the finish line.
University of Missouri – Columbia junior, Alexis Hitt was one of those volunteers. She spent the end of her volunteering shift clapping for runners finishing the 5K. Though this was Hitt’s first time volunteering, she’s no stranger to it and was a reporter and photographer for the festival two years ago. Though she didn’t specifically sign up to work to 5K, Hitt said she had a lot of fun volunteering, and thinks the unconventionality of the True Life Run is the main reason for its popularity.
“True/False is all about a bunch of people coming out and having fun and I mean we start at nine, people are coming at 8:30,” Hitt said. “The people [that run] … they like to have fun. You know, I don’t know if the race wasn’t like this if as many people would come out.”
And as the 50-or-so runners crossed the finish line, senior Jaynell Lardizabal was recording their times. Lardizabal was another one of the over 800 volunteers at True/False this year. In addition to writing down the runners’ times, Lardizabal’s task was recording the number of challenges that each did. She, along with Hitt, believes that the challenges make the True Life Run all the more worth it.
“I feel like all the quirks in [the run],” Lardizabal said, “and the fact that it’s a part of a good cause just really embodies the True/False spirit.”
By Trisha Chaudhary