By Noah Moore
Some pretty amazing things happened at Peyton’s Wild and Wacky Ultra (5K and 10x5K) this year. There were some incredibly fast times, there were first-time 50k and 5k finishers, and there was my Mom, Phyllis Moore, finishing a 5k on her 81st birthday.
For the past six years, my wife and I have put this race on to celebrate the life of our nine year old son, Peyton. Even at a young age he was an incredible athlete, student and person. We have tried to continue his legacy of giving and loving with this trail race that has become a sold out event and something people look forward to each year.
When race day registration opened on September 10 (Peyton’s Birthday), my mother told us she wanted to not only be part of the race, she wanted to finish it. Peyton was her grandson, her “little fella,” and she wanted to do something special to celebrate his life. My Mom uses a walker to get around. She does not have the muscle strength or balance she once had. But she has an inner strength that has never wavered. She raised five kids on her own, she worked multiple jobs to support us all while working to finish her college degree and she ensured that we all knew we were loved and special no matter where we lived, what we wore or how much money we had (not easy lessons to teach to a bunch of teenagers). So when she said she wanted to finish the 5k race, I knew she would.
She spent months building up her walking distance, even recruiting some of her neighbors to come along. Cold weather and Kentucky snow made her pause, but she got right back to it. Even after falling a few times, she still kept moving forward towards her 5k goal.
And then the CoronaVirus. Our race was on March 14, and talk of cancelations and travel restrictions were just beginning. There was uncertainty about our race and we took all the precautions possible. We decided to move forward with the event and it would turn out to be the last normal day for most of us.
The race is a 10x5k – one 5k each hour, for 10 hours. There are solo 50k runners, two-person relay teams and five-person relay teams. And there is a single 5k at 10 a.m., the largest of them all, with every solo runner, relay runner and 5k runner joining in at the same time.
We modified the event a little for my mother. She actually completed the 5k the day before the race, which was her actual birthday. Surrounded by family at a beautiful park she marched forward and finished her goal. We were so proud of her and celebrated her huge accomplishment.
The next day was the big race and it was truly special. People needed that day. We needed that day.
Each race started and ended along the beautiful avenue of oaks that is part of Laurel Hill County Park in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It’s a beautiful place for a race and the field next to the oaks was full of tents and canopies. There’s nothing quite like it.
As the day went on, we saw these amazing runners finish one 5k after another, some running sub-20-minute 5ks each time. We saw runners coming in just under the hour cut off and then we saw my mom coming down the avenue of oaks.
She had missed the chance for a finish line photo the day before, but my family made sure she did not miss it completely. Of course, this meant she had to go an extra quarter mile to make that finish line, but with everyone running over to cheer her on as she finished, it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. And we cheered and cried.
We love our running community. They held us up when our son, Peyton, died. They cried with joy when we announced the birth of our second son, Miles. They have supported our race over these past few years like no other race. And they cheered my 81-year-old mother through a finish line that was greater than all of us.
The race ended, as it always does, with us all circled around a grassy field eating icy treats, smiling, laughing and handing out prizes and awards.
There are normal days and there are special days, this just happened to be both.