The Wichita Gladiator Dash, which is organized by Newman University, has become one of the most anticipated and popular obstacle-course races in the city with nearly 900 participants registering for the big day.
The 5k race raises much-needed funds for the Child Advocacy Center and Newman University athletics. This year's event took place June 10 at Sedgwick County Park, marking the eighth year that Newman Athletics has planned and implemented the fundraiser.
One participant in particular, a Newman University alumna, came to the race with one goal in mind — to honor her husband's memory.
Lori Bradley's connection to Newman University dates back to the 1980s. She graduated from Newman with a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 1985 and an Associate of Science in 0ccupational therapy assistant in 2016.
But the Newman connection went further than alumna status. Lori's husband, Randy, became an avid Gladiator Dash fan early in the game.
The Bradleys, who met in 2001 during a karate class, have always enjoyed working out together.
"We met in karate class 17 years ago and did that for a while," said Lori. "Then we starting doing triathlons and marathons together. When Randy heard about the Gladiator Dash, he really wanted to try it. And for him, it wasn't necessarily about how fast he finished the course — it was more about helping others get through it. He wanted to go out there, have fun and help others along the way."
Lori said he recruited many participants to join him throughout the years, so it was inevitable that Lori would eventually be one of them.
"My first Gladiator Dash was in 2014. It was a 'date day' for us. We had a great time and I've been running them ever since."
Randy passed away suddenly on March 20, 2018. Lori said they were planning on signing up for the race but hadn't done so yet. She said her heart wasn't in it after that — she just didn't think she could do it.
"At the time, I didn’t’ know if I wanted to do it, but I’m so glad I did," explained Lori. "I could just hear Randy say, 'Get out there and do it!' He always encouraged me in my training, my schooling, in everything."
She found more encouragement through a close friend of hers.
"Last year, a group of us were out for dinner. My husband was talking about it (the Gladiator Dash), and he talked my friend into joining. So she encouraged me to do it for him this year."
Lori and her friend formed a team — Team Randy.
"There were eight of us on the team, all of them I already knew. But some of them met each other for the first time on race day."
One of those team members was Lori's son, Brice Logan.
"I was so impressed with my son," she said. "I knew he would be this way, but he was so compassionate. He took Randy’s place in making sure I was safe. This year was Brice’s first time running the race and he loved it. He had a blast and is definitely in for next year."
Many emotions were present that day, Lori said.
"Day of, I was very anxious and emotional. Once we all started, everyone was having so much fun and I laughed really hard for the first time in two months. Afterward, I just started crying. I know he would have been so proud."
Lori said the Gladiator Dash is a great cause, and she will continue to support it in coming years.
"I love where the funds are going — I think that’s important. I love how the race isn’t catered to elite athletes. It’s for whoever wants to jump in and do it. Everyone helps each other. Anybody can do it."
The Gladiator Dash isn't the only race Lori participates in. She completed her first half Ironman at the age of 50, has already completed her second, and is signed up for a duathlon in July.
"I’m just going to focus on some fun things for a while. That (a marathon and half Ironman) takes a lot of mental strength, and I'm not really in the right place for that right now. I’m just going out there and have fun."