Polk runners complete annual trek up White Oak Mountain

Members of Polk County's cross country teams stand atop White Oak Mountain after Monday's Kathleen Run (photo courtesy Alan Peoples).

The tradition began with a simple question.

A couple of members of Polk County’s first cross country team were talking about how motorcycle riders would make the climb up White Oak Mountain, a discussion that led to them approaching head coach Alan Peoples with an idea – why not organize a run up the mountain?

Peoples agreed, and thus was born a challenge and a ritual that every member of Polk County cross country teams know well.

The Wolverines completed the annual trek up White Oak on Monday. Those that reach the summit and run every step receive a much-coveted “I Conquered White Oak Mountain” T-shirt at the team’s postseason banquet.

The run is now known as the Kathleen Run, named for Peoples’ mother and sponsored by the Peoples family. Those finishing the Kathleen Run this year included Caleb Potter, Evan Dadson, Jack Derkach, Connor Holtz, Emmett Zacharias, Chris Rickman, Taytem Johnson, Sadie Allen and Izzy Jackson. Parents Lorrie Rickman, Mel Crain, Carol Dadson and David Zacharias backed the run with snacks and other support.

With the conference meet and 1A Regional set for this month, the team is also looking to raise funds and will hold a pancake breakfast on Saturday at Larkin’s in Columbus. The breakfast will run from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and is $7.