It’s 8:30 in the morning on Oct. 20. It’s chilly –but not yet the bone-numbing cold wave that enveloped the area over the weekend – and the morning stillness on the compacted dirt-and-gravel road is broken by the sounds of their soles crunching the rare loose dirt.
Gravel trucks and hunting vehicles pass at infrequent intervals, but that hardly bothers them.
In a different year, Angela Moore and her sister-in-law Macey Moore would have been pounding the road with many other runners. They might be bumping up against them, angling to eke out a first place as crowds of spectators cheer them on.
Instead, it’s nearly quiet. No cheering crowd, no jostling for position. Just the two of them . . . plus Macey’s energetic 4-year-old vizsla aptly named Gunner . . . trudging along the gravel road.
Gunner helps to quicken their pace, at least when he is not running off to gallivant in the surrounding fields, as they run in Memorial Hospital of Converse County’s fifth annual Organ Trail Zombie Walk/Run.
The racing and fitness challenges were held “virtually” this October due to the coronavirus. That means that participants are completing their runs and exercises on their own and are being encouraged to log their progress and compete against others digitally through the site Active.com
Roughly 20 people signed up for the various challenges, far fewer than in previous years, though there may be more who are taking part but did not register, hospital Director of Population Health Tom Holt noted.
The various challenges are somewhat open-ended; they encourage participants to set daily step goals or complete runs like a 5k, 10k, marathon or longer.
Angela and Macey ran a half-marathon for the “roamer” challenge, tackling Braae Road outside of Douglas. They’re both regular runners, having completed their fair share of marathons in the past.
For Angela, the half-marathon was a kind of return to form for her, after some of her summer races were cancelled due to the virus.
The run was also a way to help her move closer to her new goal of logging 100 miles every month.
Angela said she enjoys this particular road for running because it’s gravelly, easy on the feet, not congested with traffic and provides beautiful views of the expansive hillsides and mountains. South Sawtooth Mountain, Trethway Mountain and Flattop Mountain rise majestically in the distance.
This morning, however, there was more activity on the road than usual, including gravel trucks passing in the opposite direction, requiring Angela and Macey to corral Gunner. They also ran into a hunting guide friend who was taking an elk for processing in town.
They finished the race in 2 hours and 42 minutes, with an average pace of 11:09 per mile, although neither one of them was trying to break any records.
“The Zombie Run is just a fun way for me to stay motivated and keep training throughout the month,” Angela said. “I also enjoy supporting MHCC and their goal of keeping people moving through this event in whatever way they feel they can.
“It’s super important not only for physical health but mental health, particularly during this stressful time of covid.”
That perspective, Holt said, is the very reason why the event was held this year in the way that it was. The hospital is planning to give out swag bag health kits to participants on Oct. 29.
“People can still exercise outside and stay socially distant, particularly in Wyoming’s wide-open spaces,” he noted.