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2017 Rex Cleveland "Magic of Running" Writing Contest, November 5, 2017

And the Winners Are . . .

Division and Place First Name Title of Essay
Elementary School Division    
First Place Sophia Youngberg Magical Running
Second Place Savannah J Stanley The Magic Running Lamp
Third Place Kayla Mosby I Like Running
Honorable Mention Kaari Guyas The Magic of Running (2)
Middle School Division    
First Place Latesha Cooper This is Why I Run
Second Place Rodney Wilson Track Team Bound
Third Place Khalia Bethea Running Glory
Adult Division    
First Place Casey Hutto Madi and Me
Second Place Anne Draper Sidewalk War
Third Place Debbie B Edwards The Icing In the Cupcake
Honorable Mention Nita Smith Running Saved Me

Magical Running

First Place, Elementary School Division

By Sophia Youngberg

Sophia YoungbergSpeedily running through the green and fresh smelling forest, bright leaves shimmering
on the tall trees, my deer hooves pound the pine carpeted ground. I leap the bright blue brook,
then pick up the speed, excitement coursing through my body as I race on. I feel so free. The
wind is whistling in my ears, and I hear the birds cheerfully chirping as I race past, and then I
nearly trip over a log. But I keep running, my hooves making small prints in the path, and bright
flowers and leaves passing in a colorful blur.

"Ashley! Slow down!" Mom's voice jerks me back to the present. "It's time to turn
around and go back to the tent. It's getting pretty dark."

"O.K.," I say, the feeling of magic fading as I slow down. Glancing down and seeing my
shiny blue running shoes on my feet, I remember it was late afternoon when my parents and I
started running on the trail. The time passed so quickly. "Can we run here tomorrow?" I ask

"Sure, but next time don't blow us over!" Dad joked.

I smile, "Race you back to camp?"

The beautiful forest is endless and so is my running. 

This is why I RUN

First Place, Middle School Division

By Latesha Cooper

It's getting kinda late now so I know my mom won't be able to pick me up from the club so I ask
the driver to drop me off by my house. As the bus slowly stops I prepare myself for the RUN I
have ahead of me, it's a short run, but I must run fast. Why do I run you may ask? I run because
I don't want my friends to know that I live in Public Housing. I run because it's dark. I run
because I am afraid.

Most of my friends live in big houses, in nice neighborhoods, with green grass, and well lit
streets. NOT ME!! I live in Public Housing, better known as the projects .. So when the bus
stops and those doors open, I run like a big pit bull dog is chasing me. I run because I don't want
my friends to know that I live in the projects.

I live in a part of town where a lot of bad people hang out on the comers. It seems like the bad
people are waiting till the sun goes down to come out of their homes and do bad things! It's
dark, so this is why I nm.

The darkness brings out the bad people and my mother has always told me not to talk to
strangers. There are a lot of strangers out on the street. I can't see very well at night. I don't
want to get kidnapped. I run, because I am afraid.

I love participating in different activities with my friends. I love learning new things and
meeting new people. I also love to run during the day, but never at night in my neighborhood. I
don't want my friends to know where I live, I don't like the dark, because I am afraid.

Madi and Me

First Place, Adult Division

By Casey Hutto

I started running 5 years ago. After 3 years of running, my life took a sudden change. My
wife of 20 years asked for a divorce. In that same year, I lost both of my dogs, one of my closest
friends, and totaled my car. I was 62 years old, and about to start my life all over again!

I have a son and 2 grandchildren that live in Pensacola. They enjoy running as a family,
so I began running with them during my monthly visits. I continued to feel lost until the Fort
Braden "Posse" and Madi came into my life. The die hard "posse", Madi, and I began running

This is where I realized the "Magic of Running." When Madi and I started running, she
was 8 years old. I found myself not running as fast as I could in races in order to make sure she
was going to finish. When she turned 9, we began running faster. We were competing in local
Gulf Winds races together. The Palace Saloon 5K in 2016 was the first race that she was able to
beat me. The Mentor became the Mentee! That was one of the proudest days I have had in a long
time. I didn't teach Madi how to run, she taught me how to live life again and it was all through
the "Magic of Running!"

The Magic Running Lamp

Second Place, Elementary Division

By Savannah J Stanley

There once was a man named Max. He was very fast. One 10K he was in the lead when all of a
sudden he tripped. He looked back. He saw a lamp. No one else could see the lamp. He
picked it up and rubbed it. A genie came out and the genie said "You have 4 wishes. Use them
wisely." The first wish Max made was that he would be very strong. His second wish was that
he was brave. His third wish was that he was bold. His fourth wish was that he was free. Max
was out of wishes. He was angry. Max said "Wait. I thought these things would help me win
the race." The genie said "All runners are already strong, brave, bold, and free. All you have
to do is try your best. So whenever you go to another race just try your best and have fun."

Message: Always try your best and have fun. Races are not competitions they are just for fun.


I Like Running .....

Third Place, Elementary Division

By Kayla Mosby

I like running because it helps me exercise and it helps me feel relaxed. Running makes me feel
important like a marathon runner. I mostly like to run in the spring because it feel really warm in the
spring. Also in the summer it is too hot, and in the winter it is too cold. Each time I run I get faster.
Running is important to students. Why .... Because running can also improve your health in the say ways.
When you run you can sleep really good that same day. Running can give you energy so that you can
feel like Superwomen. Also running can help you stay focus on something. Running is a great time to
think about something and to open up your mind. Running is magical!

When you run outside you can see the world. If you never get to go outside because work or school
maybe you should run in your free time. In every school there should be P.E. so everyone will have a
chance to run.

The Magic of Running

Honorable Mention, Elementary Division

By Kaari Guyas

I don't run very much, but my dad and my friend Martha run and they like it. I am just starting to run and
I am interested in it. I just started running and I like because it helps me exersize and it gives me time
to think.

Last year, I ran in the beginning runner's group and I was near the front of the group. So, this year I have
been aloud to volunteer as a coach who runs in the back of the group to make sure they do not get lost.

I love running and I run a lot in our street. I think everyone should t ry running at least once a week, on a
treadmill or outside. Or maybe they could try a different phisical activity. Bye for now, I'm about to go running!

Track Team Bound

Second Place, Middle School Division

By Rodney Wilson

Running is a sport that can get you all around the world. It can also make you famous in life.
Sometimes I run a couple oftime around my entire house and I run outdoors when I'm in school.
I make sure I eat healthy foods every day. Some of my family members are on a track team.
When I get in high school, I'm going to be just like my dad who played three sports - football,
basketball, and track. All three of these sports keep you healthy and they help your heart rate.

When I see a track, all I think about is running on it and getting other people to jog on it also. Me
and my friends race on the track field with football players when they are practicing. I run
because I want to get better at sports and be prepared for the Olympic track team someday. When
I get enough money from running track at the Olympics, I will payoff all my bill and move on
with my life.

Third Place, Middle School Division

Running Glory

By Khalia Bethea

Running gets my mind and body flowing. Running is my best way to exercise. Running is
glorious for me. I really feel the bum when I am running track. Sometimes when I am running, I
think about the many things I never think about before. This is how running gets my mind and
body flowing

The Sidewalk War

Second Place, Adult Division

By Anne Draper

Walking home from school had become a nightmare for the smaller kids. The boys were blocking the
sidewalk again, taunting their classmates. No one ever got hurt, just annoyed, pushed and pestered for the
long mile home.

Today it rained. I was carrying an umbrella and I was mad. Smelly Peterson got a little too close and a
little too brazen. He must have forgotten something. He forgot about the school yard races every Monday
when the P.E. teacher came and made all the classes race to the chain link fence. He forgot who was picked
first for all the recess teams. So when he made a lunge at me in front of his cheering buddies, I turned on
him and chased him. He started to laugh but I ran him down the sidewalk, across Short Beach Road and into
Granite Bay where he stood in the water embarrassed and humiliated. I beat on him with the umbrella
making sure he would remember who could out run him and his bully buddies. I wanted him to remember
who got to the chain link fence first and who was picked first for kick ball on the playground. And I really
wanted to make sure he never forgot the girl who took the sidewalk back.

The Icing in the Cupcake

Third Place, Adult Division

By Debbie B. Edwards

Debbie EdwardsThe parking lot is dimly lit; yet there are 8-10 ladies standing around in their running gear.
They received a Facebook message last night from one of the running moms to show up this morning. She was bringing cupcakes to reveal what she was having for her little bambino due in a few months.

At 5:10 a.m., it felt like Christmas. The ladies had been waiting for this present for months.
They had been sharing events, milestones and precious memories like this going on a few years.

Each time they met, either in that parking lot to run, or during their daily routine, each mom had
this comradery of ladies to lean on and get what she needed. It could be laughs, a shoulder to cry on, or advice about teenagers dating, and sometimes, even who's got the spelling words.
Running was just the catalyst that brings them together most mornings.

It created a magical bubble, where each mom could be herself. She didn't need to dress up, put deodorant on, or even brush her teeth (even though most moms appreciated when she did). Instead she was appreciated for the woman she is…a runner just trying to fit in the miles while juggling a busy schedule.

Running Saved Me

Honorable Mention, Adult Division

By Nita Smith

Nita SmithI was reeling from the unexpected loss of my father (and horrible aftermath, which
explanation would require a separate novel). A year later, a dreadful call came: There had been an accident. Mom was being airlifted. Unfortunately, we were 4.5 hours away at Disney, celebrating our daughter's birthday. I knew that even if I were somehow calm, instead of a worrying mess, I could not make it home in time. That was October 9, 2010. Our kids never got to ride even one ride because that call came on the monorail. My husband took it, grimly announcing: "We need to leave." On the tram to parking, he found out that Mom didn't make it, and he kindly withheld this news until we reached our hotel.

My floor had fallen out. I was rudderless.

Thankfully, the hotel had delivered a gratis chocolate cake the night prior. Our sweet girl observed, "At least Grandma didn't pass away on my birthday." My husband took the kids downstairs for sushi while I wept until I fell asleep. I arose, and wept again.

Three months later, I decided to run my first half-marathon as a "one and done" item. With each step, rumling carried me tlu'ough significant challenges: the wrenching sting of grief;
endless litigation; the estranged brother who lied with impunity; the unethical probate lawyer I
reported to the Bar. Running has also lifted me, providing: inner peace, an effortless escape, and
countless, inspiring friends.

My 17th half-marathon will be on October 15.