SMITHVILLE — As nearly 100 people from across the region donning running shoes, glow sticks and headlamps descended on the Smoke and Davey Trailhead, the atmosphere at Smithville Lake Saturday, Aug. 17, was one of excitement as the annual Lunartic 5K kicked off around sunset.
The annual event that sees runners race under a full moon and tree canopies along the shore of Smithville Lake raises funds for Smithville High School’s Warriors cross country team.
“We’ve seen a lot of new runners this year,” said cross country team parent and event volunteer Kim Dodson, who worked the registration booth before the start of the race. “Sponsorships are up this year too. We’ve got a little over a dozen.”
Before the race, cross country head coach Alex Moore thanked attendees and sponsors, saying proceeds would help pay for the team to attend meets out of town. He also introduced Mayor Damien Boley.
Boley said he was happy to support the team and that trails are important to Smithville and the area, adding the city is working to connect lake trails with the city’s to provide further amenities to area visitors and local team runners.
One of the first-time runners who participated in the Lunartic was Jason Silvers, an avid trail runner with a YouTube channel dedicated to the sport called The Year I Got the Runs.
The runner said he heard about the event from a social media feed.
“I try and run a different race each week and run a race that I haven’t run in the last five years,” he said.
Kendra Bealmear of Kansas City, who also ran the Lunartic two years ago, said she wanted to participate to support her friend, who is a Smithville High School assistant cross country coach.
“It’s a good event,” she said ahead of the race’s start.
Theresa Tollett of Parker, Kansas, said she drove nearly 100 miles to participate in her first trail run.
“I follow and look at different races on the Ultra sign-up list that I belong to and this popped up,” she said. “I’ve never done a trail one and thought I would check out Smithville and the lake.”
Tollett said she was happily surprised by the scenery.
“It’s a beautiful lake and a nice town,” she said. “Plus, I like that it benefits the cross country team.”