While mid-40s temperatures, coupled with blustery wind and overcast skies would discourage most non-runners from even getting outdoors, that can't be said for the half-marathon runners who flocked into Texarkana this weekend.
Sunday morning's first light saw the gradual collection of more then 600 running enthusiasts as they gathered for the 11th annual Run the Line half-marathon near the Bi-State Justice Center Building in downtown Texarkana. For many, if not most of these participants, the running conditions were practically ideal, said Julie-Ray Harrison, the event co-director.
For many runners, winter weather actually helps them run because, it encourages the need to stay warm by moving around and generating you own heat," Harrison said.
Besides being encouraged by the low temperatures, overcast skies and frosty morning winds, Harrison said most of this year's runners were from out of town.
"About 30 percent of our runners are local (from within a 30-mile radius of Texarkana) while 70 percent are from outside that radius," she added.
While the event's participation numbers have fluctuated through the years, Harrison said this year's 622 register count yielded pleasing results.
"Last year, we had 586 and our first year (2008) we only had 136," she said.
Following the 7:30 a.m. blast off from the starting line, the half marathon's volunteer work team wasted no time in scurrying up a few blocks to the event's finish line near Hopkins Ice House on East Third Street. There they prepared to receive the sprinters at the end of the 13-mile trek. These first finishers started racing in less than two hours after exiting the starting point.
One of the first was 39-year-old Tia Stone, who maintained her position as the first female runner to cross the finish line at this race for the third straight year in a row.
"It was my dad that got me interested running because he was a runner where I grew up in southeast Florida," she said. "I ran relays in high school as well as college."
For Stone, Sunday's half marathon was just a warm up for a full marathon in Little Rock in two weeks.
"It gets a little harder to do each year, because you get older, and I hurt my foot earlier this past summer," Sone said. "But it will be all right, since I've already run in the Little Rock marathon twice before."
While many like Stone have been life-long runners, other participants, such as Little Rock resident Laura Kearns, started running just within the last few years.
"I started running only about three years ago," Kearns said. "I started that just as a relief for stress and it has actually helped."
Others like Rachel Hendrix, also of Little Rock, started running in college.
"I also played soccer, while I was growing up, so I was used to running," she said. "What I really like about this is the chance to get to visit other cities in Arkansas. It's a big commitment, but I plan to keep on running. Once you get bit by the running bug, it's hard to stop."