Ashley County was a stop along a 3,080-mile journey from southern California to Washington, D.C. for seven runners and a support team as part of Race Across USA.
The journey began in January in Huntington Beach, Calif. and continued through the southwestern states of Arizona, Mew Mexico and Texas. A short trek through Louisiana led the group of long distance runners into Arkansas.
Beginning in Magnolia, the troupe ran the rural roads of southern Arkansas until they came to Ashley County.
They reached Ashley County last week, ran through Crossett and stayed two nights in Hamburg at the middle school gymnasium before moving down Highway 82 to Chicot County and Lake Chicot State Park.
On April 10, the runners and their support team moved into Mississippi and ran eastward to Indianola as they looked forward to Alabama and the journey to the nation’s capital.
Sandy Van Soye is the race director. She handles the logistics and oversees the event or journey. She said she drives one of the four support vehicles that accompany the seven runners that include her husband Darren Van Soye, the co-organizer of the long-distance running event.
Van Soye said organizers could not use Race Across America because it is the legally owned name of a bike race patterned after the Tour de France.
Therefore, she explained, organizers chose Race Across USA as its title and www.raceacrossusa.org as its Web site domain.
The purpose of the event, Van Soye said, was to raise money for programs designed to help America’s youth become active in school and throughout the year.
The Web site outlines the purpose of the event, “According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. At the present time, 12.5 million children, ages 6-19 in the United States are obese.”
Solving that issue by drawing attention to it and by raising money to support programs that will get youngsters physically active is the purpose behind the project.