Wichita runners put their feet to the streets

The clouds may have been dreary gray and the temperatures a bit nippy, but for 186 runners, Sunday was a guilt-free day. That's because the Run Wichita Super Bowl Sunday Four-Mile Run celebrated its 19th annual race.

"It went very smoothly," said Mark Chamberlin, the race director. "We had a little bit of a gusty north wind that made the trip back easier, at least the last two miles."

The "out-and-back" run has been an annual event since 1993, Chamberlin said.

"What we noticed was that the game started being later and later and later," he said. "People would get up on Sunday, go to church and have a gap of up to four hours before they'd go to the Super Bowl party. It was a perfect day to run a low-key, almost informal sort of race."

There are no awards for running or winning, although the winner was Fernando Martinez, who ran the race at Linwood Park in South Wichita in 22 minutes.

Martinez, 34, a native Wichitan, has been running since he was 14. He ran at Wichita North High and Wichita State University.

"I'm trying to be involved in the running community, and this is a fun race," he said.

The last runner came in at 56 minutes, but that doesn't matter, Chamberlin said.

It is all about getting out and active on a winter day.

"We've run in every kind of weather — sleet, rain, cold, 75- to 80-degree temperatures — all kinds of weather and conditions," Chamberlin said.

Run Wichita is a chapter of the Road Runners Club of America.

Runners on Sunday ranged in age from 8 to 74, Chamberlin said.

On Sunday, just four days after a major snowstorm, there were a couple of slushy spots along the course, but no mishaps.

"We do it to support Run Wichita," said T.J. Penrick, one of an estimated 20 members of the Kansas Air National Guard to participate in the run. "We do it to support the community and because our lifestyle is not sedentary. You have to be fit to fight."

And because afterwards he could watch the Super Bowl.

"This gives us the right to eat and maybe have a cold beer and not feel guilty," Penrick said.

For other runners, the run is simply a chance to see fellow runners.

"I have run for 30 years, and this is a good way to start the year," said Vicki Tucker of Wichita.