Sunday April 11, 2021
Mainly Marathons has been around for quite a while. Yet of the 178 Halfs my wife has done, not one was a Mainly Marathon. There was not any one particular reason, just never the right opportunity! That ended today!
So why now? Luzviminda Villamil… Luz was a dear friend who passed away recently. A lot of you know who I am talking about. For those who don’t, she was a Legend… a Looney Legend, an official designation by Mainly Marathons for reaching a certain status. Luz was also a Half Fanatics Hall of Famer and held many other titles with 50 State Half Marathon Club and 100 Half Marathon! And while her accomplishments were impressive, it was her spirit that made her special. Always one to encourage everyone else, whether they were a first timer or an old timer, Luz was a giver who touched you and made you feel special.
First, I want to back up a bit to March 6 in Biloxi MS. Luz’s husband, David Hoyt, lost his brother to Covid-19. Daniel lived on the MS Gulf Coast and David and Luz had come to Mississippi to make the arrangements and settle the estate. A local running group, Gulf Coast Running Club, already had a 5K planned, and since Daniel (David’s brother) had been an active member and officer in the group, they decided to make it a memorial run also, honoring Daniel by adding a memorial message to the back of the shirts.
Jennifer, Bullie and I thought it would be a great idea to represent the national clubs David and Luz belonged to by making a quick trip down to the coast from our home in Brandon MS. Jennifer, David and Luz walked the 5K while Bullie and I offered our support! Luz was glad we came down because we were actually the only runners they really knew, though all the people there surrounded them with love and support. Jennifer and Luz came in 1t and 2nd in their age group and David came in 3rd overall in the walker category. Bullie and I won the overall Best Spectator Award, which isn’t a real thing but should be!
It was a great time of fellowship for the three of them on the course and we later joined them and some GCRC members for lunch. Bullie and Luz had a great time sharing laughs and a drink!
6 days later, we got the sad news that Luz had passed away at a rest area in Arizona on their trip back to their home in California! That 5K would be the last race for Luz! Jenifer would be the last fellow national club member to run with her. It was just too hard to believe!
Today, Mainly Marathons honored her with a memorial service and run! It was why we decided to make this our first foray into the Mainly world!
Sunday was the first day of the Riverboat series in Winnsboro LA. But before the running started there was a short but moving memorial service for Luz. Daniel Rueckert who owns and runs Mainly Marathon with his brother Jesse, opened it up with some fine words about Luz and what she meant to Mainly Marathons as well as all the racers that ever came in contact with her. Dee Dee Urquhart read a short memorial with a touching personal message at the end. Then everyone joined in a candle lighting next to the Mainly Marathon trailer right under Luz’s caricature.
The first lap was a time to reflect on her memory, many running with the cellphones displaying a candle on the screen.
Before the race, a deputy sheriff stopped by and talked to Daniel. I assumed he was just checking to see if everything was in order. However, a few hours later, the Sheriff came in with his lights and siren with another unmarked car behind him. Oh no… did Mainly Marathons not acquire the proper permits? Someone complain? And why did a car pull in with him? But it wasn’t a raid, or the mayor stopping by… it was David Hoyt, Luz’s husband making a surprise visit!
David Hoyt had watched the Memorial service from a hotel room in Jackson MS and not from home in California. Then he drove a rental over to Winnsboro to make a surprise visit. Only one person knew about it and she didn’t say a word! Everyone was ecstatic to see him!
I will have more to say and will breakdown the three races we attended following shortly! This is just a nod to our friend, Luz who has wings on her sneakers and is entertaining the angels!
Jennifer, Bullie and me!