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Rigsby, Park find ex­hil­a­ra­tion, chal­lenge in run­ning

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Contents - Story by Lind­sey Wells, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

‘Ul­tra‘ thrill: Rigsby, Park find ex­hil­a­ra­tion, chal­lenge in run­ning

For this month's Fall Fit­ness is­sue, HER Mag­a­zine caught up with Hot Springs run­ners Deb­bie Rigsby, 60, and Ta­batha Park, 49, to dis­cuss how they got into the sport, what mo­ti­vates them, and chal­lenges they've faced.

Ta­batha is an ul­tra run­ner, which is de­fined as a per­son de­voted to cov­er­ing the sport of long dis­tance run­ning, or more than 26.2 miles at a time.

She ran track all through ju­nior high and high school and said she was very ac­tive with her two sons while they grew up. Af­ter mov­ing to Hot Springs in Oc­to­ber 2014, Ta­batha was run­ning 8 miles a day on her drive­way and ex­pe­ri­enced the “run­ner's high” that left her want­ing more.

She sought out lo­cal run­ning groups and found the Spa Pac­ers, a group that of­fers sev­eral weekly group runs.

“I jumped in run­ning with Spa Pac­ers and about six weeks later I signed up for the Lit­tle Rock Half Marathon. No train­ing, just signed up,” Ta­batha said. “Ran the marathon and got through it with the help of Spa Pac­ers.”

Af­ter the marathon, she be­gan run­ning with the Pac­ers' trail group, which in­vited her to some­thing called an Id­iot Night Run, which con­sists of run­ning 21 miles — at night.

“It was my first time ever run­ning in the evening, in the dark, on a trail. Need­less to say I fell about three times, but I didn't quit, I kept up, and so I pur­sued more of the trail run­ning. Prob­a­bly six months af­ter be­ing with the Spa Pac­ers I started run­ning more trails and then got in­volved in the 50K. From 50K I moved up the 50-miler 100K, and I did my first 100-miler in Fe­bru­ary of this

year,” Ta­batha said.

She com­pleted her first 100-mile run on the Oua­chita trails in 30 hours and 29 min­utes.

At the time of this writ­ing, Ta­batha said she was look­ing into en­ter­ing the Arkansas Trav­eller 100 on Oct. 7, a 100-mile race near Roland, and she has another 100-mile race sched­uled for De­cem­ber.

“Oth­ers might see it as a bit id­i­otic, and we do ac­tu­ally call our­selves the Hot Springs Id­iots be­cause you pretty much have to be out of your mind, or just not have a sound mind, to run those dis­tances,” Ta­batha said. “But there was some­thing that hap­pened to me af­ter I did my first 100-miler and it was a jour­ney, a type of life jour­ney, that you can't buy. It's in­cred­i­ble. It's some­thing that makes you feel that you can just do any­thing. Set your mind to it and don't give up.”

She said al­though her sons, ages 27 and 24, are ac­tive, they don't run with her and, in fact, some­times try to dis­cour­age her from run­ning such long dis­tances at her age.

“The el­dest says, `Mom, don't you think you should do some­thing a lit­tle more in­tel­lec­tual? Mom, I think you're get­ting too old for this.' Ex­cuse me while I run in cir­cles around you, son,” Ta­batha said, laugh­ing. “Don't worry, son, you'll un­der­stand one day, trust me.”

When asked what the train­ing is like for a long dis­tance race, she said the av­er­age per­son should be­gin build­ing upon their miles any­where be­tween 22 to 26 weeks be­fore their event.

“You're go­ing to want to build them up to be­ing prob­a­bly, roughly, about 15 miles per week. You ba­si­cally just want to build upon your miles, prob­a­bly be­tween 25-30 miles in the last month be­fore the event and you do that about three times in a month. Quite ex­ces­sive.”

Ta­batha said she runs five to six days per week and, in ad­di­tion, does cross train­ing and re­cently took up yoga. The No. 1 thing on her bucket list right now is to com­plete three 100-mil­ers by the end of this year.

Run­ner and hiker Deb­bie Rigsby had never run a race be­fore in her life be­fore com­plet­ing the Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado in 1991.

Why did she do it? Be­cause some­one told her she couldn't.

“That was my very first race. I hadn't done a 5K, 10K, any­thing, or even run with peo­ple, but some­one told me I couldn't do it, so I did it,” she said.

She has since com­pleted the Pikes Peak Marathon 13 ad­di­tional times.

Her other races in Arkansas in­clude sev­eral 50Ks, White Rock Clas­sic, which is 32 miles, and the Oua­chita Trail 50 Marathon.

She has hiked the en­tire Oua­chita Trail, 232.5 miles, over the course of 22 days. Cur­rently, she


Chal­lenge your­self, al­ways do bet­ter, and just see what you can do to push your­self.

and her group are hik­ing the Ozark High­land Trail three days at a time, on which they have 20 miles left to com­plete. Deb­bie has also hiked from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim, a to­tal of 24 miles, four times.

“It's more of a per­sonal chal­lenge for me. Chal­lenge your­self, al­ways do bet­ter, and just see what you can do to push your­self. And it's the friend­ships. You make so many good friends in the run­ning and hik­ing com­mu­nity, and they're a dif­fer­ent breed; they would just do any­thing for you,” Deb­bie said.

When asked what her fa­vorite marathon has been, she said, “Prob­a­bly Pikes Peak, be­cause it's the most chal­leng­ing be­cause of the al­ti­tude. You never know how the al­ti­tude will af­fect you. They say to take your flat land marathon time and add twoand-a-half hours and that should be your fin­ish time. Every time you are stand­ing on the start­ing line wait­ing for the gun, you think, `What was I think­ing?' The ca­ma­raderie is like no other. When you cross the fin­ish line, the feel­ing that washes over you is over­whelm­ing and you feel so em­pow­ered.

“We used to have a huge group, the Arkansas group, that would go, and we took three or four buses up there. It was a whole event, and it wasn't just the run — we'd call the Hogs and we all wore a short and had Arkansas flags. There was over 200 of us and you'd see that Arkansas flag go­ing up the moun­tain.”

She said her fa­vorite Arkansas race has been the SPA Run­ning Fes­ti­val half marathon be­cause of it's or­ga­ni­za­tion, scenery, en­cour­age­ment from other run­ners, and the chal­lenge.

Deb­bie has two chil­dren and three grand­chil­dren, and when asked if she has ever con­sid­ered hik­ing the Ap­palachian Moun­tains or the Pa­cific Crest Trail, she said she has thought about it, but her grand­chil­dren are what keep her from do­ing it.

“I know I wouldn't have a prob­lem ac­tu­ally do­ing it, I just wouldn't want to not see them,” she said.

Deb­bie will soon be­gin her train­ing for the 3 Bridges Marathon in Lit­tle Rock.

Deb­bie Rigsby, Left, and Ta­batha Park

Ta­batha run­ning the Lovit Trail Marathon.

Deb­bie rigsby, front, and Linda Wood

Ta­batha Park, left, Brandy Ris­ner and An­drea Bird­song

Deb­bie run­ning the 3 bridges marathon in the sleet and rain.

Deb­bie rigsby, front, and marie Gard­ner, cross­ing blue Hole at the Hoof It For Heifer 20K.

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