Petal Mayor Ducker Announces Mayor’s Fitness Tip, Run the River Ultra Challenge & Relay

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Petal Mayor Tony Ducker recently announced two new health-themed initiatives for The Friendly City: the institution of the Mayor’s Fitness Council and the inaugural Run the River Ultra Challenge & Relay event.

Ducker was joined on May 6 at Petal River Park by new board members Lacey Saul, Tom Hardges, Susan Dobson and Hal Harrington. Ducker said the council aims to add more events for Petal residents that focus on the outdoors and fitness.

“(The council) started with the idea that the town of Petal is full of active people, but lacks the events to express it,” Ducker said. “We basically had a signature event; it’s the Petal Children’s Task Force 5K every February.

“I have been encouraged by the recent additions of other 5Ks, but I hope that with this advice we will be better able to support these physical activity events, and even add more. Please understand that this are not budget-busters, but events that will not only bring people to our city, but also give our citizens the abilities and opportunities to enjoy our amazing parks.

Together, the four members of the Mayor’s Council on Fitness have run 11 marathons — including Dobson, who ran in the Boston Marathon — 32 half-marathons, 12 Iron Man competitions, a 50K (Saul) and the climb Mount Everest on a bike ride (Harrington). Additionally, Hardges served in the military for 21 years, as well as the same stint with the City of Petal Parks and Recreation Department.

The Run the River Ultra Challenge & Relay will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on October 29 at Petal River Park. Teams of one, two or three to four members will be able to walk in the footsteps of the park for six hours.

The 2.5 mile loop course will take walkers through the river, lagoons, wetlands, palm fields and train trestles. The event is family friendly and open to anyone of any sporting level. Teams compete by completing as many loops as possible before the time limit.

Only one team member can be on the course at a time, but teams can complete the loops at any pace, using whatever strategy they choose, and a full lap must be completed within the six-time limit hours to be counted. Each team will have their own party/rest area on site.

From there, team members can cheer on their runners as they emerge from the woods and make the final stretch along the meadow to the finish. Divisions will include men’s and women’s for individuals, and teams and groups can be all men’s, women’s, or mixed.

“We want to make it accessible to everyone,” Saul said. “If it’s your first Ultra, you could just get out and walk on it, but as many times as people can do the laps in six hours, that’s all we ask of you.

“But the goal is to have fun and do something that stands out in the city on this unique lot that we have here in Petal. So we’re excited to announce that. We have a lot more logistics to plan, but we’ve done the basics; we’re ready to go ahead and get as many registrations as possible.

Registration can be done online at https://bit.ly/39wPz4n for a fee of $65 for individuals or teams.

“For those of you who have never been (to Petal River Park) before, the town of Petal truly has a gem here; our trails are so well maintained,” Harrington said. “Lacey and I were here to scout the course a few months ago, and…there’s not a lot of rocky places, and it’s really soft ground.

“There’s not a lot of uphill, but enough uphill and downhill to enjoy it, and it really is, if you will, an artistic course. I felt like I walked through it like there were paintings here and there, and you trail runners will know what I’m talking about.

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