Run celebrates diversity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

A sea of colorful faces flowed through the streets of Selma Saturday morning during the third annual Defiant Run.

Runners, walkers and a small group who referred to themselves as “runners/walkers” gathered at Selma Mall to register for the 13.1-mile race and obstacle course.

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Participants included Mayor James Perkins Jr. and District Judge Bob Armstrong.

The mood was jovial as participants received their race number and got acquainted with their race partner.

The Defiant Run was the vision of Selma Youth Development Center Director Frank Hardy. Loosely based on the 1958 film “The Defiant Ones,” the Defiant Run links two people of different ethnic backgrounds in an effort to promote teamwork and racial unity.

The race began on Franklin Street at the rear of Selma High School and winded through Jefferson Davis Avenue, Martin Luther King Street, Selma Avenue, Old Live Oak Cemetery and Dallas Avenue.

Those who participated in the 5K (3.1-mile) fun run ended the race at Bloch Park, where they faced a challenging obstacle course – leaping over three large bales of hay before reaching the finish line.

Those continuing the 13.1-race ran through the Civil War re-enactment battlegrounds and onto Satterfield Road before retracing their steps to the final finish line on Franklin Street.

All the while, motorists and residents showed their support by honking their horns, waving at participants and shouting words of encouragement.

Out-of-towners from Wisconsin and Kentucky took part in this year’s race, but the top three winning teams in the half-marathon hail from Selma. Jesse Lindsey and Pierre Webster snagged first place. Tony Johnson and Bill Potter were close behind, finishing second. Valerie Chittom and Tameka Little came in third.

Participation in this year’s race was slightly up from last year, but Hardy said he will continue to promote the race until it receives national recognition.

“As more and more people start to recognize the vision of where we’re going with this, it’s going to become easier,” Hardy said.