Chase Race has record-breaking year

by Sonja J. Keith

It was a record-breaking year for the 11th Annual Chase Race and Paws, held recently in Simon Park in Downtown Conway. Organizers report a record crowd, sponsorships and a record amount raised.

The event includes a two-mile race for runners/walkers and a one-mile fun run for runners/walkers with leashed pets. There is also a “Paws” Pageant (best costume contest) and pet adoption.

The race commemorates the short life of Chase Potter, who died at age 13. Chase Race and Paws promotes and raises funds for non-adopted pets and research for adolescents with traumatic brain injury. Chase’s father, Don Potter is the founder of Chase Race and serves as the race director.

“We had a record crowd for the 11th Chase Race, with 628 registered,” said Don. “We raised $17,000, a record amount which will give us a grand total of $135,000 for the 11 years of Chase Race and Paws. Hallelujah is the only word I can think of to shout.”

Proceeds are divided equally between the Friends of the Conway Animal Shelter and Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Each organization will receive $8,500.

“Why do we always give to the same organizations? Chase loved pets just like most adolescents. When he died, he had three dogs, koi fish, an iguana and rabbits. He was treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for brain trauma.”

In addition to the local volunteers involved in the run, Don had relatives drive from Mobile, Ala., to share the special day with him. “That was all unknowing (my wife knew) to me until the morning of the race. That will cause a wet eye or two.”

Cloudy skies and light rain occurred this year but did not discourage participants. “In 2015, on the Thursday before the race, the course was covered with ice and snow, but by Saturday, all was clear and the race went on as if He above was watching out for us. This year, there was a 100 percent chance of rain on race day. Again, we were blessed by Him above. The rain stopped long enough to successfully accomplish the event, then it started back raining again.”

This year’s event featured a new course. “The Conway Police Department asked us to change our course to avoid circling the police station. Everybody loved the new course much more than the old course. All things do work together for good is a truism here. Thanks to the CPD for traffic control.”

Race founder/director Don Potter surrounded by Theodore Jones Elementary School students at this year’s event. “This is one my favorites,” Don said. “They were ready to race and they invited me to be in their picture. I visit their school every year to encourage them to continue ‘moving their parts’ for the rest of their life.” (See more photos in the May issue of 501 LIFE.)

Race results:

•    In the two-mile men’s race, Toler Freyaldenhoven, 17, won with a time of 9:54, a 4:57-minute pace. “Toler also contacted me a month or more before the race telling me how excited he was to volunteer again for packet stuffing. He wanted us to be sure and put him and his family’s name down for a volunteering slot,” Don said. “Toler is, no doubt, one of Conway’s finest.”

•    Tia Stone, 37, won the 2-mile female race with a time of 11:36, a 5:48-minute pace.

•    Mary Paxton, 6, 2-mile age group winner, 21:40.

•    Frances Barger, 81, 2-mile age group winner, 24:20.

•    Ashton Stone, 5, 2-mile age group winner, 23:14.

•    Glen Wile, 75, 2-mile age group winner, 18:36.

•    Pablo Hurtado, 19, 1-mile leashed dog race, overall male winner, 6:09.

•    Emily Harbour, 30, 1-mile leashed dog race, overall female winner, 6:19.

•    Daveline Davis, 66, 2-mile walker, overall female winner, 23:33.

•    Bentley Hollingsworth, 2-mile walker, overall male winner, 19;58.

•    Course 2-mile race records broken:

1.    Male 15-19, Toler Freyaldenhoven, 9:54.

2.    Male 35-39, Brian Sieczkowski, 10:04.

3.    Male 70-74, David McCormick, 13:18.

4.    Female 65:69, Debbie Hill, 15:08.

5.    Female 80-84, Frances Barger, 24:20.

Don expressed his appreciation to all involved in this year’s Chase Race. “I love Conway and all of the citizens who support this event.”

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