Watching runners crest the longest of the many hills in the Bear Trax 20K race on Sunday, I was impressed by their smiles, spirit and gratitude, near the end of a truly tough race.
It seemed they were emulating Nancy Sellars, the woman memorialized and celebrated through the annual event at Lapheam Peak. Friends and relatives organized the race after Sellars was killed by a drunken driver, while bicycling with a training partner, on July 9, 2008. Sunday would have been her 54th birthday.
Sellars’ impact among those who run and swim and bike in the area seems as extensive as the trails in the park near the Town of Delafield. The dozens of volunteers all have some tie to the Ironman and ultra marathon skier, and their running tribute to Sellars helps raise money for the Nancy Sellars Memorial Foundation, which provides money for local trails and education efforts to improve roadway safety.
I’m guessing, though, that a good many of the 231 people who tackled the 20K on Sunday never met Nancy Sellars, or knew about the story behind the race. For them, the event was an opportunity to challenge themselves and enjoy a brisk morning out in the woods; exactly what the organizers intended.
As Jimi Sellars, Nancy’s husband of 25 years explained at the first Bear Trax: “We want to make people aware that this thing we have. To be able to run on the trails, is a special and incredible thing. We were road runners for years, then we found out how spiritual it is out there, and it was a natural thing for her.”