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Helena the hot spot for blues, biking and running

by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | October 1, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Long before musicians take to the various stages on Saturday in Helena-West Helena during the 33rd annual King Biscuit Blues Festival, runners and cyclists will be on the roads.

The Tour da Delta bicycle ride and the Flour Power Run 5K are held in conjunction with the festival, and both start Saturday morning.

• The Flour Power Run takes off at 7:30 a.m. from a starting line in front of the Phillips County Courthouse, 620 Cherry St. The course runs through the Helena River Park alongside the Mississippi River and through downtown Helena-West Helena.

The footrace is a memorial to Kenneth Freemeyer, a Helena native and avid runner who became the race's director in 1996. He was killed in a car wreck in 2000.

Entry fee is $25 in advance or $35 on Saturday. Register online at Registration is limited to the first 300 entrants.

Packet pickup and on-site registration are from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Saturday at the courthouse.

• There are six routes for the 12th annual Tour da Delta, ranging from a 7-mile family fun ride to a 65-mile course that includes a stretch in Mississippi.

New to this year's tour are 12-, 20- and 35-mile rides that feature sections of gravel road; and there is also a 35-mile route that takes riders across the river and into Mississippi.

All the routes begin at the American Legion Hut, 409 Porter St.

And to make sure the cyclists aren't singing the blues themselves, musicians will entertain refueling riders at rest stops along the routes.

All riders will roll out at 9 a.m., except for those in the Family Fun Ride, which starts at 10 a.m. and includes stops at Estevan Hall, Freeman Park, the Helena River Park and Fort Curtis. Sag support will end at 4:30 p.m.

The $60 registration fee for each ride includes a one-day pass to the blues festival, $20 in Blues Bucks and a pair of socks. A souvenir jersey is available for an extra $60.

Online registration at closes at 5 p.m. Thursday. Package pickup is from 4-8 p.m. Friday and 8-9 a.m. Saturday at the American Legion Hut.

More information on the 5K and the Tour can be found under the Events tab at

-- Sean Clancy

Paws at the Beach

The Paws at the Beach 5K walk/run and its sidekick, the 1K dog walk, begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at Sandy Beach on Greers Ferry Lake in Heber Springs. Humans are invited to run with their dogs.

This sixth annual 5K is the Heber Springs Humane Society's biggest annual fundraiser and a big-time little footrace, with chip-timing and a 3.1-mile course certified to USA Track & Field standards.

Mayor Jimmy Clark will blow the horn to start the 5K and 1K at the same time, but the 1K dog walkers will veer away from the 5K course. "Near this beach is a wooded area that people walk in, and that's where our 1K dog walk is. It's on dirt," says organizer Mary David.

Although the deadline for a guaranteed souvenir shirt has passed, she has ordered 20 or so extra shirts, based on past experience of how many sign up on race day.

Registration is $30 for the 5K or 1K and can be placed online at -- search for "Paws at the Beach." Or you can register in person from 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. today through Friday at the Humane Society Thrift Shop, 104 S. Fourth St., or between noon and 4:30 p.m. at the shelter, 49 Shelter Lane in Heber Springs. Or register before the race.

"Everybody gets a little ribbon," she says, but the fastest finishers will win medals, and "this year we upgraded a little bit." There are special first-place medals for the first overall man and woman in the 5K's running and also its walking division. And "regular" medals will go three-deep in 10-year age divisions for men and women.

One amenity is specific to racing with dogs: Runners who forget to carry a baggy for picking up after their excited pooches will not have to slink home in shame. David is supplying newspaper-sheath bags from a stash of 11,000 she packed with her when she moved from Indiana four years ago -- legacy of a former co-worker who delivered newspapers there.

"I have a lot of cats, and I use a lot of them every day," she explains.

More information is available by calling David at (501) 270-2143 or emailing [email protected]

-- Celia Storey

Way Back Kayak Trip

DeGray Lake Resort State Park at Arkadelphia is offering a full-day guided kayaking tour of the lake Saturday and again Oct. 13.

Interpreters plan a 7-mile adventure beginning at the dam and following the Caddo River channel through the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains all the "way back" to the park. Paddling experience is preferred but not required. Participants should be in good physical condition and prepared to paddle at an easy pace and with breaks from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

The $50 fee (plus tax) includes kayaks, paddles and life jackets, snacks and a lunch from the park's Shoreline Restaurant.

There is limited space for participants ages 10 and older to paddle tandem; kids must be 13 to paddle solo.

To reserve a spot, register and pay a $25 nonrefundable deposit by noon the Friday before your trip. For registration, call the park lodge front desk at (501) 865-5851.

-- Celia Storey

Please send tips about active recreation opportunities to

[email protected]

ActiveStyle on 10/01/2018

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