Tag Archives: Mississippi Track Club

Spotlight On: Rod Simmons


Rod Simmons

If you’re a runner or walker in Mississippi who makes the racing circuit, you’ve probably seen or at least heard of Rod’s Racers. It doesn’t take long to realize that if you need information or pictures of you or a loved one in a local race, Rod Simmons is the person to contact. The best thing about this is that it’s free for you!  A few months ago, I decided to spotlight runners or walkers from Mississippi that are making an impact in our running communities. The first person that came to my mind was Rod. He works hard to not only promote races but also the importance of being healthy and active. I also believe that through Rod’s Racers, he’s brought a sense of camaraderie among the racers. 

We met up with Rod at the Run for the Roses 5k Race in Prentiss back in April of this year. He is an extremely nice person who has an obvious love for this sport that only a runner/walker could understand. When he found out about my blog and Facebook page, he’s promoted it regularly amongst his many followers. Rod was also my right hand man when I began planning my first 5k race as a race director. He also was more than ready to advertise it for me when we were ready to promote it.

Rod was nice enough to stop and snap a picture with Jason and me.

I really appreciate him taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer a few questions to help you get to know him and about Rod’s Racers.

1.)Tell us about your family and work. I know April is at a lot of the races taking pictures and I’ve seen her race before too!

April & I have been married for 14 yrs. Our daughter Roslyn is 12. I’ve been nursing at the University Of Ms Medical Center since 1995.

Rod with his wife April and a fellow racer at an event.

2.)How did you get started in running?

I started running in 1990 as a Sophomore at East Flora High School in Flora, Ms. I ran the 2 Mile for the track team that went on to finish the season as state champs that year.

3.)When did you start race walking?

I started race walking in February 2009 after a 19 yr layoff from high school. My doctor gave me 3 months to chang my lifestyle after having repeat high cholesterol.

Rod is also on the Board of Directors for Bike Walk Mississippi. (Click to visit link.)

4.) Race walking looks so difficult! Do you find it to be harder than running?

Race walking can be difficult. You have to be disciplined to be a walker.

5.)What’s your favorite distance?

I love doing 8k or greater.

6.) Do you have a favorite race that you look forward to every year?

I enjoy Run 2 Eat 5k in Hattiesburg, YMCA Cotton Classic in Greenville & 300 Oaks Road Race 10k in Greenwood.

7.)What’s your best and worst racing experience?

Best – When I PR’d in Oct 2009 with a finish time of 32:50.

Worst – Sept 3, 2011. At 1/4 mile into the race, I hit the wall. All of my energy was gone but I still finished 4th overall in the walk.

8.) What’s an average training week for you?

A training week varies based on my work schedule and the weather.

9.) Do you do any cross-training?

I ride a mountain bike, stationary bike, elliptical machine, dumbbells, and strength training.

10.) What is Rod’s Racers and how/when did you decide to form this group?

Rod’s Racers was started a year ago. We promote road races in Mississippi. I want to help promote small races and support the race directors. We are made up of 5 people: My wife April does photos, Tim Irvine and Evelyn Watkins, from Meridian, cover East Mississippi, Frank Barrett, from Laurel, covers South Mississippi and takes photos. I am the founder and cover Central and North Mississippi.

Evelyn Watkins, Tim Irvine and Rod Simmons of Rod's Racer's

Frank Barrett of Rod's Racers

11.)How can runners, walkers or race directors connect with Rod’s Racers?

They can visit in 3 ways: www.rodsracers-ms.net, www.facebook.com/rodsracers and www.twitter.com/rodsracers

12.) What are your goals for Rod’s Racers?

My goal is to create a chapter in each state to promote road races in those states.

13.) Approximately how many races do you/Rod’s Racers attend a year?

30 plus.

14.)If you could give someone advice that’s just starting out running or walking, what would you tell them?

Always consult your doctor before starting out to be sure you’re healthy.

Rod and his team do an outstanding job!  Click the link on his logo below or give him a call if you need him at your next event or would like it promoted!

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Filed under Featured Runner, Racing, Running

What a Difference a Year Makes! – Okatoma River Run 5k


Saturday marked the last “scheduled” race on our calendar until this Fall and what a race it was! This year there were 38 walkers and 109 runners participating – lots of fast ones too!

The night before started out how so many race nights do. Late going to bed and then I couldn’t fall asleep right away because of nerves (see why here). Of course, we were running a little behind the next morning, but not nearly as bad as some race days. When I walked out the front door, Jason was already running up and down our street trying to warm up since it was obvious that we wouldn’t have time to when we got there. I decided that my warm up would probably have to be the trip from our vehicle to the table where we pick up our packets. (It was.) Adding to the stress excitement of the morning, that same gentleman who was at the Run for the Roses 5k in Prentiss (see my blog about that race here) and was announcing the whole time on a megaphone was there….on his megaphone again, lol. He certainly knows how to put me into high gear. There’s nothing like hearing how much time you don’t have to really get your heart rate going. I finally got lined up and ready to go with about a minute to spare. I didn’t get as close to the front as I had envisioned that I would be but it was good enough. One of my concerns was racing with my new Nike GPS watch. I think I must have looked at it five thousand times during the race! (I promise to do a review soon!) 

Looks like I'm doing some kind of strange march here.


The weather was really pleasant that morning, which was something we’d all been praying for (at least I know I had!). I started out a little faster than I should have but once I looked down and saw my pace, I reigned myself back in a bit because I knew I needed lots of energy until the end. This particular race course is no cake walk. It has lots of hills, some that are long, gradual ones that can wear you out if you aren’t ready for them. I actually felt like I handled the hills better that day than any other race that’s had hills before. I kept telling myself that my goals were this: 1. Finish 2. Beat my time from last year 3.Try and finish under 30 mins. I decided that if I could obtain even 2 of those goals, I could go home saying it had been a good race.

Lots of people passed me at first. I expected it but it still bothers me. I just kept telling myself to keep a steady pace and keep chugging along. By the time we were 2 km into it, I noticed that some of the people who had passed me early on were slowing down a little and now I was passing them. When I made it to the park, which was close to the half way point, I’d finally pulled away and didn’t have anyone immediately beside or behind me anymore (of course, I can’t be positive about the behind me part because I refused to look but I didn’t see anyone when I turned the curve, lol). I used that time to slow down for just a minute and take some deep breaths to get ready for the next really big hill that was waiting for us when we exited out of the park. I was dreading it but I knew that the sooner I could get up it, the sooner it would be behind me! Before I knew it, I was over the hill and on the last leg of the race. I was feeling a little tired but had no idea if I had someone gaining on me and because of that, I was afraid to slow down. I also was watching my time closely and knew that I had a good chance of finishing under 30 minutes. (In the back of my mind I was wondering if I’d made a mistake when I slowed down some in the park….)

Here I am coming up the last hill before reaching the finish line. (It seemed much higher at the time!)

As I turned on to the street and topped the hill, I saw the clock and it was still under 30. I saw my parents cheering, I saw Jason’s mouth yelling (couldn’t hear what because my music was too loud) while he was frantically trying to take pictures of me. It was going to be close. I ran as hard as I think I’ve ever run in my whole life. The clock seemed to be ticking away so fast!!! One last look up as I approached the finish line and I saw 29:58. That was all I needed to see as I ran under the clock. I threw my arms up in the air. I’d made it!! 

I have 2 pictures from that moment:

One from Jason here –

As you can see, Jason was a little too excited and missed me. Luckily, he did get the clock in the picture! 🙂 I couldn't help but laugh at this one...had to post it!

One from my mom –

My mom did a great job of documenting everyone's finish that day!

Jason finished in 22:27 and won first place in his age group!

Jason running for the finish line!

Several members of our family participated that day.  Our son Tyler ran it in 28:01, Jason’s sister, Donna ran with a finish time of 31:02, his brother’s wife, Delana ran and finished in 27:45 (winning 1st in her age group too!) and his mom walked it in 43:37 (winning 1st in her age group!). 

Tyler finishing strong.

Donna approaching the finish line. (She's only been running a couple of months now!)

Jason's mom heading towards the finish line.

Click here for a complete list of results from the race, courtesy of the Mississippi Track Club. They always know how to put on a great race!

I was very happy that several in our family participated and lots of our friends did too.

Here's Jason with his sister, sister-in-law and mother after the race.

I was super excited that my parents were there to watch me!

My parents and me.

Jason with his 1st place trophy.

My sister-in-law, Delana with her 1st place trophy and me.

Tyler and me after the race. (He'd already changed out of his running clothes.)

Here I am with Cherie who (beat the socks off me) won 1st Place in our age group with a time of 26:20!

This is my friend, Lakeisha Barnes, who signed up this year as a runner in the race!! She has been on her own fitness journey in the last year and is one of the strongest, inspirational women I know!

After being a bundle of nerves and not sleeping much the night before, and running behind that morning, I have to say that this year’s race was a drastic improvement over last year’s. Not being in pain is the biggest thing I’m thankful for but I’m also grateful that I’m a little bit faster too..or maybe just a little less slow!

First goal: Finish – CHECK

Second goal: Beat my old time – CHECK

Third goal: Finish in under 30 – AlmostMy official race time was listed as 30:01, even though I initially thought it was under 30. It’s ok though and you want to know why? Because I won my FIRST TROPHY with that time anyway!!

Holding my trophy for 3rd Place in my age group.

Two out of 3, plus a trophy isn’t a bad day at all in my opinion!!

Last but not least, here’s a picture of the girl I beat on Saturday:

This is me finishing last year with an official time of 32:54.

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan




P.S. Look who I ran into after the race, talk about my lucky day!


I was shopping for my mom a Mother's Day gift and Elvis just happened to walk in!


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Filed under Family, Racing, Running