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Covered in mud, the runners of the second Dash for Dallas event celebrated as they finished the last of the obstacles on a chilly Saturday.
The runners wore the exhaustion on their faces along with a look of relief as they hosed off. Scraped and bruised, they had finished the 3.1-mile trail run in remembrance of their friend.
“It was for a good cause,” Ashleen Kelly (senior, nursing) said. “It was definitely harder than I thought it would be, but I got through it. Now that I’m finished I’m glad I did it, especially because it’s in rememberance of Dallas.”
Dallas Miller would be an Indiana University of Pennsylvania alumnus by now.
Instead, the former sports administration major’s life was cut short when he was in a car accident in February 2013 – just months before his graduation date.
“My reaction, and everyone else that was friends with him, was disbelief then sadness,” Madison Torok (senior, sports administration) said. “We dealt with it as a group; it was very hard. It not only affected [sports administration majors] but our professors as well.
“Our major is a very close-knit group.”
The Sports Administration Club, which Miller was part of, had been in the process of planning a 5k trail run with obstacles, Torok said, to benefit the club.
After hearing the tragic news, the club made a change in plans. They decided that the benefits from the run would be used for a memorial in Miller’s honor. And as a group they decided on a new name for the run: Dash for Dallas.
For the second year in a row, the club held the race at the Co-op Recreational Park. Torok said the second dash would be to reimburse the club for the additional money spent to put up a memorial bench in Miller’s honor in front of Zink Hall.
“We had about 50 runners this year,” Torok said. “Which is less than last year, but with [Miller’s] friends who graduated and everything, we expected a smaller turnout. We were still excited about it.
“His family came to see it. His brother and sister-in-law all ran in it and his parents watched.”
The trail run included tires to run through, a 6-foot wall climb, a hay bale climb, a net crawl through the mud and a slip ’n’ slide at the end. The trail went through the woods and was all uphill, Torok said.
The dash received $250 in sponsorships, Torok said, and made $600 from registration and shirt sales, raising $850 total.
Even members of Miller’s graduating class returned for the dash. IUP alumnus Alex Martinelli said the trail was “fun and a great way to remember Dallas.”
“Today was great; it’s just great running it for Dallas, who was a good friend, a great teammate and a great hockey player,” Martinelli said. “Maddie and everyone did a good job setting everything up. It was a blast; I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Torok said the club wants to continue the dash annually, and if the dash continues to receive a good turnout, the club eventually wants to start a scholarship program for sports administration majors. v