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Sneakers headline race

Nikes and Reeboks replaced Chevys and Fords for a race Saturday at the Iowa Speedway  to support Progress Industries and the Iowa Speedway Foundation. The Seventh Annual “Where the Rubber Meet’s the Road” 8K race had a tremendous turnout.

ISF Director Debb Smith said close to 300 runners and walkers participated, despite temperatures in the low 30s.

Registration for the race was $35, and all proceeds went to PI and ISF.

“We award first, second and third places for males and females, and we have age brackets for up to over 70,” Smith said. “And we pull in runners from all over Iowa and even out of state. We even have some runners from Kansas City.”

One team of note was Dave Mathis and Dr. Richard Newkirk of Ankeny. Mathis suffers from Noonan Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that prevents normal development in various parts of the body. According to Mathis and Newkirk, Mathis has had about 30 surgeries, including a brain shunt, a heart valve procedure and 22 surgeries on his legs.

The men met at church, and Newkirk, an avid runner for about 40 years, asked Mathis about participating in a race with him one day. Mathis agreed, and just like that a partnership was formed.  Newkirk pushes and Mathis rides in his wheelchair.

“We’re here to do another 8K race,” Mathis said. “Dr. Newkirk and I have been doing these races for seven years. I can’t run and I’ve always wanted to be in a race.”

This was their second time participating in Where the Rubber Meets the Road race.

“We do everything in the Des Moines area,” Kirkwood added. “He’s outlived three life expectancies; he’s kind of like a Timex watch—he keeps on ticking.”

Park Centre of Newton also had a healthy presence with their group of runners. Park Centre Wellness Director Natasha Nikkel spoke for the group.

“It’s a great cause and it’s great that it stay’s local,” Nikkel said. “I’m just going to go out and have fun. I say every year that I’m going to train and I never do,” she added jokingly.

Runners came in all ages, shapes and sizes and Ryan Staub and other local children came out to support.

“I just love running,” Staub said. “My mom runs and my dad love’s coaching her, and they both wanted me to run. So I started running, and I liked it a lot.”

Chad Sellers of Johnston was the overall winner of the race and finished with a time 28:02 on the hilly five mile course that also featured a lap and a half on Iowa Speedway. Sellers nearly kept pace with the pace car and left the competition far behind. Sellers said he runs every day.

“Kind of, yeah (I expected to win),” Sellers said jokingly. “I looked at previous year’s results, and I saw that times were just under 30 minutes. I figured either it’s a really, really tough course or just not great competition every year. I hadn’t run an 8K this year, but this is a tough course. It’s hilly and the wind is fierce.”

Fans of Newton Senior High School’s track and cross country teams should be pleased that sophomore Christian Laube took second place with a time of 30:22.

“I just ran a good race, just having a lot of experience running long distances, I believed that helped me,” Laube said. “There was a guy that ran with me the whole time and that pushed me too. Last year I finished fourth in this race and I wanted to be in the top three. I accomplished my goal in getting second.”

PI Public Relations Director Melissa Butler seemed to be pretty pleased with the success from this year’s race and said that they raised a generous amount of money for charity.

“Fantastic, good turnout,” Butler said. “The reason this even started was we were looking for an event to promote Progress Industries, to bring people to Newton, and the speedway was just getting up and running (and this worked out).”

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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