On November 1st, I ran in the 5th Annual Darleen’s Flamingo 5K. The run is a charity event with proceeds and donations benefitting the Shepard Cancer Foundation. It is held in honor of Darleen Smith. It was a unique experience among 5K runs.
Darleen fought a hard battle against Breast Cancer and lived by her favorite slogan, “Make Your Own Party”. The run took place in the waterfront community of Smithton, NC.
The event was a scenic drive from my home that took nearly two hours to complete. As I approached the race I recognized I was getting close because signs and Pink Flamingos were posted on roads and in yards. Nearing registration I was directed to a parking area some distance away. The weather was windy, wet and cold. I wasn’t looking forward to a hike or jog back and forth to my car to get ready for the run.
Pulling into the parking area I was saw dozens of ATVs. This caravan of ATVs was on hand to shuttle people back and forth to their cars. And, the caravan was in full operation.
I was amazed at the turn out for this 5K. It seemed the entire community showed up in support of Darleen’s Flamingo. Her motto, “Make you own party” appeared to have been adapted en masse. The start / finish line were in the community which had the atmosphere of a block party.
The race started without delay and the wind did its best to remain forcefully in our faces. I drafted two ‘big’ guys; they looked like high school football players until there was a tail wind. The tail wind, short lived, was enough to help me gain a lead over the ‘big’ guys and I maintained it until the finish where I placed third in my age group.
After many races there is food for the runners. Food often means a bottle of water and perhaps a piece of fruit or cold bagel. Darleen’s Flamingo did it differently – they served breakfast. (The race started at 5 PM)
This wasn’t a half-hearted Hampton Inn breakfast. They served: grits, eggs, cheese biscuits, pancakes, bacon, sausage, a variety of desserts and fruit. It was incredible. I am going back next year if for nothing else the food!
It seemed hundreds of people turned out for this block party charity event. Each, in their way, “Put it on the Line” for a good cause. Darleen’s Flamingo stands out as one of the coolest 5Ks I’ve ever run.