Before the Easter Bunny arrives during the third weekend in April, runners take to the roads in Columbia for the 40th annual Old Mill Run on Saturday, April 20.

Several years ago, when race organizer Cathy Peacock decided she needed to let the job go after 15 years, Dave and Teree Urquhart took over the organization of the event. The Urquharts have implemented a few changes, none of which detract from the fun, energizing spirit of the long-standing fundraiser. For one thing, they’ve included a 2-mile Fun Walk for those of us who used to run but no longer want to take on a 10-kilometer run.

“It’s a 1-mile walk from downtown Columbia to the schoolhouse and back,” Dave Urquhart said. “You can do it once or twice,” he added, making clear this event is all about having fun.

There are six entry options on race day: the Kids Mini Mill, Kids Mill, 2-Mile Fun Walk, 2-Mile Run, and 10K Run, with awards given in age groups in the 10K run.

Gini Seibert ran the 10K last year after not participating for a number of years.

“I wore an Old Mill Run T-shirt from 1995 – the 18th annual run,” Seibert said. “At the start of the race, I met Dr. Hongola, who was wearing the same shirt. I was running ahead of him the whole race, but he finally caught up in the last mile, and we crossed the finish line together. I won my age division – 70-80 years old.”

The 10K run starts and ends in Columbia State Historic Park, traipsing over a strenuous course along outlying roads through shady glens and bright sunny spots.

“The course has changed since the ’90s and is very challenging with hills,” Seibert admits.

The Urquharts have put a lot of energy into beefing up the sponsorships for the race, which has helped them raise funds for two charitable organizations. According to Dave, “With last year’s race proceeds, we were able to donate $3,300 to the free Christmas Eve dinner at the (Mother Lode) fairgrounds. We actually paid for all the food, according to organizer Cathy Peacock. We also donated $1,100 to the WINGS Fund, which financially assists families who have children hospitalized out of the county.”

The WINGS Fund was initiated by Teree Urquhart. When Dave underwent heart transplant surgery 17 years ago, he spent two months in the hospital in Palo Alto. Teree and their daughter Melissa learned firsthand the hardships of having a loved one hospitalized far from home.

“We had good insurance and sick leave,” Dave noted, “but many people are not so fortunate. Teree envisioned the WINGS Fund as a way to help such families.”

By registering in advance for the races by April 11, you are ensured of getting a race T-shirt. According to Seibert, last year’s shirt was pretty special, with an image of the Old Mill designed by Columbia resident Chuck Waldman, who is an artist and runner. The same image can be seen on the posters for this year’s 40th annual run. Waldman, who actually won the race one year, signals runners to take off for the 10K by firing the traditional starting gun.

So have fun whether you’re young or old, a runner or a walker, and help generate funds for two good causes.

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