Traveller from Missouri makes a Bath County Stop


I’ve never been a runner, but I do like to walk, so on a sunny morning back in October I joined in the first 5K raising money for the Bath Rehab and Wellness Center.   It feels a little awkward at the start, knowing that everyone around me is stretched and ready to take off, but then I fell into step beside a woman who was clearly not in any more of a hurry than I was. Her name is Judy Gates, and she comes from Union, Missouri.

“I came to run the “Run for Your Life 5k Run and walk race.”

Being pretty new to the whole 5k experience myself, I asked if she had done other events like this one before.

“I have. I decided to do an adventure across the United States, doing a 5K in each state.”

I asked Judy where she had walked already, as she drove to and from two or three states in each trip away from home, around the whole country.

“My first one was in Ohio. Then Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, North Carolina, Georgia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Utah, Colorado, and today is Virginia.”

Judy Gates spent thirty-two of her working years with administration and evidence in law enforcement, and the last six years or so working at a Senior Center. A couple of years after her husband’s death Judy decided to take on this adventure and began doing research about the races from home. Now, after some long haul driving in between her destinations, Judy is well on her way to her goal. Back in August she was actually between a race in North Carolina, and home in Missouri when she learned about the Run for Your Life 5k in Hot Springs.  So she returned to Bath County in October to participate.

I asked Judy if her family were athletic, or at least enjoyed being active together.

She explained.

“I have six children, and they’re all runners. And they run in, from Iron Man- My son

has gone into two of the Boston Marathons.

So while Judy and I walked, I continued to ask her about the places she had been. She said the courses varied from pretty urban in Charleston West Virginia, to quite rural. Walking outside of Denver had not been as mountainous as she had expected, but the hills around Hot Springs definitely caused us to adjust our pace a few times. The causes, or benefitting organizations, of the races vary too, but she tends to choose those supporting health and wellness, or cancer research and treatment.

I asked Judy what some of her impressions were of our listening area.

“Virginia is really, really, beautiful. I came through here in August and everything was really green and it was very beautiful driving through. But this time, was even more beautiful with the fall leaves.”

And how has her carefully planned progress around the country helped her think about the whole United States?

“Just doing this adventure has taken me through so many different states, and the beauty of the country is simply amazing, all the way from the farthest one west that I did was Utah, and the farthest east was North Carolina. And the states are just so different and so beautiful in individual unique ways.”

For updates on local 5k races, or to learn more about Wellness and Rehab visit Bath County Wellness and Rehab, and stay tuned to Allegheny Mountain Radio.


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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