Annual run hits its stride

Published 10:21 am Friday, May 30, 2014

Darren Dash organizers aim to bring people together to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away.

Shelley LeTendre started the run started three years ago after her friend and runner Darren Lewis passed away. Since then, Darren’s family has been in charge of the run, according to LeTendre, the founder and president of Desperate Tears.

“We bring an awareness and doing things just to bring people together,” LeTendre said.

Darren Lewis finishes a race in this submitted photo. -- Photo provided

Darren Lewis finishes a race in this submitted photo. — Photo provided

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Darren influenced LeTendre’s life with his running, and she wanted to bring people together to celebrate his life, as well as the lives of other lost loved ones.

“I wanted to do something,” LeTendre said. “I didn’t know what, but I wanted to do something.”

LeTendre did something familiar — she ran. She went to Las Vegas and did a barefoot run, raising $4,000 toward her cause.

“In life there’s always ups and downs, you know, struggles, happy spots, easy spots in life,” she said. “And when you run barefoot, there’s going to be rocks. You’re going to see some rough ground; you’ve just got to work your way around it, cause you’ll eventually come out a winner. That’s how I looked at it.”

After her barefoot run, LeTendre started Desperate Tears, an organization for suicide awareness and prevention. The group now helps the Darren Dash find volunteers, sponsors and anything else they might need, LeTendre said. She loves that the race has brought many people together, people from Austin and from other areas, runners and non-runners. She said the race has been a good event to help people open up to each other about the losses they have faced.

“It’s like something in the air, when you’re out there, you don’t have to be fast, you’re not out there to win,” LeTendre said. “It’s such a good feeling being out there.”

About 250 to 300 people participated in the first Darren Dash, and turnout was similar the following year. LeTendre expects it to follow suit this year. She said it is not a competitive race, but a supportive one.

“That’s the coolest thing about this race is the people who come together, and you just don’t know what person you are helping through this race,” LeTendre said. “I see it going every year; I don’t ever see it ending.”

Registration is still open from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and 6:45 to 7:45 a.m. Saturday. The half-marathon begins at 8 a.m., the 5K begins at 8:15, and the Kiddie Run begins at 11 a.m., followed by the awards ceremony.

Man Cave Craft Meats out of Golden Valley will sell brats and food at the event, with the proceeds going to the Austin High School cross country team.

After the race, there will be a post party at 5 p.m., at the Corner’s Bar and Grill, (The old Lansing Corners). Anyone is welcomed, and runners and volunteers get half priced food and drinks. Film footage of the races will be played all evening. Denny Charnecki and the DC Drifters will play from 8 to 11 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call Shelley LeTendre at 507- 440-4670.