If you were to ask most people how they’d like to celebrate their Fourth of July, it’s not likely you’d find many eager to race four miles in the summer heat at seven in the morning. However, for those dedicated to both their fitness and their country, the Four on the Fourth at Hubie Gallagher Park was the best of both worlds. Some several hundred runners gathered at the neighborhood park to get some running in and to support their local community, as all of the race proceeds went into local programs. American flags, country music, and beer abounded at this event that brought the community together. The four mile race course was designed as an out-and-back along a straight neighborhood road. Races like these are sure to test a runner’s mettle, as there is little to distract you from the race and it can be difficult to gauge how much of the course remains to be run. Factoring in the hot and humid Louisiana weather makes for some tough race conditions. Thankfully, overall men’s winner of the race Jake Prebeck shared with us his strategy for overcoming tough race conditions.
“You just gotta find yourself and get into a rhythm,” Prebeck told us. “It gets easier to start checking marks off once you’re on your way back and you’ve already seen everything once.” Prebeck got out to the front of the race quickly so that he could find that rhythm and set the right conditions for his race. Though a few runners held pace early on, he showcased some serious fortitude both physically and mentally, creating and widening a gap on the back stretch. Prebeck looked smooth across the finish line despite the heat and came out with a comfortable win.
On the women’s side, overall race winner Kristin Wenstrom came into the event with a different strategy in mind to equal degrees of success. “I tried to manage myself and not run too fast at the start and run to a plan,” Wenstrom said. “I wanted to push myself towards the end, which I definitely did effort-wise. I don’t know if it came out in the speed though,” she added on with a laugh. From the spectator’s perspective, she certainly seemed to execute her plan to a tee. She was running with a head of steam in the back half of the race and had put a large gap between herself and second place by the end.
The four mile race was far from the only exciting event on the day. Following the four mile road race was the kid’s half mile race. The two quick laps were met with as much excitement as any race, and the battle for overall first place was an absolute barn burner. Though eight year old Charlee Buchanan got out to an early lead, it was the sit and kick method of nine year old Brayden Gibson that won out in the end. Brayden wanted to focus on “kicking it in” going into the race, and it’s clear that his strategy paid off. Both runners showed impressive late-race speed however, and both finished the race at the front, winning the girls’ and boys’ sections respectively. Charlee was just happy to “work hard and cheer for others,” and seeing her hard work rewarded was great for all the fans.
Lastly, no Fourth of July race would be complete without a beer mile. Beer miles always draw a sizable crowd looking for quick feet, chugging speed, and iron guts. The show was stolen, however, by the dominant performance put on by Keith Robinson who took the lead early on with both hands and never let go, except of course to grab his next beer. Robinson, who overcame COVID just eight days prior to the race, managed to finish the event at around the eight minute mark, an impressive feat though more than a minute off from his personal best. In his age group he ranks 12th all time in the event, and is looking to move to second place all time in the near future. A true master of his craft who prides himself on being able to keep the beer down on the fourth lap, it was a spectacle to see Robinson put away beers and laps with equal poise. When asked about how he trains for an event like this one, he merely said “I drink a lot of beer.”
The day was filled with good food, good drink, and good races all around. When asked what keeps him coming back to events like these, Jake Prebeck said, “It feels great to get out for a race on the Fourth of July and support a good cause. I love every bit of it.” Four on the Fourth is certainly an event built around the community that it takes place in.
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