Admittedly, this annual look back the very best in local recreation takes a few things for granted.
First, it presumes readers have survived the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse-that-wasnt.
Second, it presumes that some earth-shattering event will not occur tomorrow.
Short of that, heres our look back on my choices for highlights in recreation over the last, well, 363 days.
Whats in a Name?
How can an event named the Caring Community 5K not get a nod for best charity event of 2012?
Sponsored by the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy fraternity Kappa Epsilon, the money raised in this inaugural staging of the event last February on the UNC campus didnt go far. Instead, dollars raised for the Caring Community Foundation ( caringcommunityfoundation.org) remained close to home.
This Foundation is local. We only help people in our local area; thats Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Cary, foundation founder Jill Wolford said.
The hard work by KE pharmacy fraternity members and organizers paid off with an impressive early-season turnout of 140 runners, especially for a first-time event.
Its been my pleasure to have covered recreation for 12 years since the idea of a regular Chapel Hill News column was first offered to me by then-sports-editor Eddy Landreth. So its with an especially heartfelt sadness that I heard of Eddys death in the fall at age 54.
Eddy was not just passionate about his alma mater UNC and ACC sports, he was passionate about his product: how his sports section looked and read from top to bottom. He cared about the whole story: words, pictures, captions, statistics everything.
Im eternally grateful for the confidence Eddy placed in me, and I feel as if theres a white space a blank page in the local sports scene, where so much more might have been written.
Apparently, marathons and ultra-marathons arent a challenge anymore. My vote for Best Newcomers in recreation: obstacle course runs. These rigorous gauntlets present challenges that would make Indiana Jones wince, often leaving participants charred, muddy, bloody, and bruised but smiling, and theyve become the newest bucket list item for adrenalin junkies.
The events have been around for a number of years, but they continue to grow in popularity. Three of the top series were expected to host nearly 2 million competitors in 2012.
Honorable mention in this category goes to the Race to Sustainability, a new 6K trail run through Carolina North Forest on July 28. All proceeds went to Forest Management and to NC GreenPower.
My choice for Best Kept Secret in area recreation is Richard Redfoots Big Cats Wrestling. A former All-American, Redfoot is hoping to grow the sport locally at the high school level and beyond. Geared toward boys and girls, K-8, Big Cats hosts age-appropriate sessions on the mats in Chapel Hills Guy B. Phillips Middle School.
This will be the second full year, Redfoot said. A couple years back we ran it just in the spring after the regular season, and then we started in the fall last year. Now well run November through May.
Those interested can join at any time with registration at the beginning of each practice.
Crazy like a Fox
You often dont know what youve got til its gone. Not so with Patti Fox. Most knew her value to the community before she moved away with her family to the Midwest earlier this year.
I dont know if we could ever replace her and find someone to do all the things that she does, said Ann Mercer-McLean, board representative for USA Tennis Associations Southern district and board member for the Durham-Orange Community Tennis Association, for which Fox was the community tennis coordinator.
Pattis infectious spirit, her spontaneity, and her fun, happy-go-lucky attitude are so contagious, it makes tennis fun for everybody, North Carolina Tennis Association executive director Kelly Gaines said.
Fox established the Chapel Hill Junior Team (Quickstart format) Tennis for 10-and-under youth. She developed the Tennis Titans Program, and worked with numerous recreation agencies, families, and volunteers to launch the annual Hispanic Carnival locally.
Remember the Titans
In Greek mythology, the Titans defied the gods; in Chapel Hill Park and Recreation youth football, the Titans defied the odds.
This band of 11- and 12-year olds claimed a league championship and my nod for Best Ensemble Performance.
The Chapel Hill Titans won this falls Central Piedmont Youth Football League (CPYFL) 11-12 Division II Championship on Nov. 10 in a thrilling championship game in Ramseur, N.C.
This is the first time any of Chapel Hills tackle football teams has won a division championship, Chapel Hill park and recreation athletics specialist Mike Troutman said.
The Titans lost their first two games before finishing the season with a four-game winning streak.
The players really learned so much about how to play the game, Titan head coach Scott Ragland said.. It was really neat to watch this team develop over the course of the season.
In a Fix
My vote for Best Individual Performance goes to Chapel Hill Park and Recreation Director Butch Kisiah, primarily for his disdain for Band-aids.
In the past, we havent had enough money to fix things the way they needed to be fixed, Kisiah said, so we put Band-aids on them. The problem is were spending more money on Band-aids over time than we would have if we fixed things right in the first place.
From proposed lights on the inline hockey rink at the Southern Community Park and improvements to unusable tennis courts to artificial turf coming to Cedar Falls Park, Kisiahs attention to the long-term is the theme of the master plan due for approval in February. Kisiah and the proposed plan show clear-sighted vision beyond quick fixes which make for a good fit for a fit Chapel Hill.
A Run of Good Fortune
Finally, my vote for Event of the Year goes to the YMCAs Pumpkin 4K Trail Run in the Carolina North Forest held each October. This repeat winner is my choice this year not because its changed or improved, but because its remained the same while change has occurred all around it.
First run in 2002, the Pumpkin Run reflected the handiwork of former 1996 Olympian Joan Nesbit Mabes womens running group See Jane Run. The race, now staged by the YMCA in conjunction with Cardinal Timing and Fleet Feet Carrboro, maintains its sense of community.
Despite changing times and subtle changes to the face of the forest in which the race is run, the lovable Pumpkin Run is still about all the things recreation should be: proud parents, youthful exuberance, a humble sense of humor about itself, a spring in the step, and fall in the air.