• Ronda Graff

Randys Run honors beloved late Bison

McCOOK, Neb. — Just more than a year ago, the community was caught off guard when Randy Andrews suddenly passed away. Randy was a staple in McCook, serving as the director of the Bison Alumni Newsletter and as a cheerleader for the community. The 1973 McCook High School graduate was an ardent supporter of MHS and his beloved Bison. And he had a tremendous passion for running, biking and fitness in general. To honor his memory, the Republican River Fitness Series added a new race this year - Randy’s Run - which includes a 5K, half-marathon and team relay. Randy’s Run takes place Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at Red Willow State Recreation Area, north of McCook. The course is not easy, a nod to Randy’s desire to run 50- and 100-mile races, But rather than an ultra-distance, Randy’s Run features several hills, dirt and grass, uneven terrain, and even includes the newest addition to the recreational area. Runners and walkers will follow a road to the new bison viewing area, whose feeding is being coordinated to match the time the runners will reach the area. Even the logo for Randy’s Run reflects his passions: a runner, a long winding trail and a bison, all part of a drawing created by MHS art teacher Tara Peterman. Randy’s passion for running began in his late-20s, expanding to ultra running (50 and 100-mile races) in his mid-40s, with races in North Carolina, Texas, California, Idaho, Wisconsin, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. According to his wife, Peggy Andrews, running meant everything to Randy. “He was devoted to it - loved it - it was his life. It gave his life meaning,” Peggy said. “He also loved to help others begin a running life. Many people have told me that Randy inspired them to either start running or to increase their mileage or to enter longer races.” His first 100-mile race was the Bear 100 in Idaho in 2003. At about 75 miles, he began hallucinating and thought he saw an airplane that had crashed into the tops of the trees he was running toward, Peggy said. “During that same race, he met up with a moose on the trail,” she said. “He stopped short and let the moose slowly move off the running trail. Randy did not want to tangle with a huge moose - he wanted to finish his first ultra.” But Randy didn’t limit his fitness to running. He took up biking when he was 52 years old, participating in BRAN (Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska) for 9 years and NUMB (Nebraska United Methodist Bike ride for hunger) the month before he died. It is no secret that Randy loved McCook. According to Peggy, Randy longed to be in McCook when he was living in South Carolina and Utah. He visited McCook many times with his family and was so happy when he finally moved back home, she said. And to top it off, he was able to help other reconnect with McCook through the Bison Alumni Newsletter, devoting countless hours. “He truly believed that McCook was a special place in a special state,” Peggy said. As organizers and the family prepare for the first Randy’s Run on Saturday, Peggy would like people to remember Randy’s devotion to others, taking the time to listen to others and learn from them. “He really cared for others,” she said. “McCook, people, running and biking - those were his passions.” Race-day registration and packet pick-up begins at 7 a.m. at the main campground with the race starting at 8 a.m. Those running the 5K will run the course one-time, while the half-marathoners will do four loops of the course. Those participating in the four-person team relay will each run one loop of the course, one after another for a total team time. All vehicles for participants as well as those watching must have a Nebraska State Park sticker, which also may be purchased at the event. Or consider carpooling to the event. For more information about Randy’s Run, visit the fitness series website, www.republicanriverfitnessseries.com. RRFS is a collaboration between Community Hospital and the YMCA to promote a healthy, active lifestyle in the community.

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