The Annual Bonner Springs Rotary Club Tiblow Trot 2 Mile Fun Walk, 5K and 5 Mile Run is 43 years old! It takes place during Tiblow Days, Bonner Springs’ largest annual community festival held in the last weekend in August. The run begins at the clock tower in front of Harrington’s Funeral Home on Oak Street (214 Oak St, Bonner Springs, KS 66012) in downtown Bonner Springs. All funds raised go toward scholarships and the Rotary’s Polio Plus Program to end Polio worldwide.
The event was created in 1979 because the Bonner Springs Rotary Club wanted to do something as an event for the whole community that would raise funds for Rotary International’s effort to eradicate polio and for the scholarships the club awards annually to local students.
Club member Dean Buhrle, a runner himself, came up with the idea of a 5-mile — not just a 5K — run, which has led to both appreciation and confusion for area runners over the years.
“I used to run a lot, and you’d have a few 5Ks, a lot of 10Ks, a few 15Ks, some half-marathons, but a five mile — that was an odd distance, and I thought, ‘Well, this is a little different,’” Buhrle said.
Buhrle laid out the course, which winds through the city from downtown to 138th Street, down Morse and up Nettleton, before heading back southwest to its starting point.
“I tell people, ‘It’s only five miles, but it’s as tough as any 10K you’ll ever run,’” said Buhrle, who led the organization of the run for its first 20 years. “It’s pretty rough.”
The first winner of the event was Steve Shaad, now of Wichita, who clocked in at 26 minutes, 10 seconds. The best time on the course goes to Phil Hudnell of Lenexa, who in 1997 set the record at 24 minutes, 42 seconds.
“We have people every now and then who are like ‘I thought this was a 5K!’” added Bruce Coleman, who took over as lead Trot organizer from 1998 to 2019.
Still, there are other runners who appreciate the different event length and the challenge of the course, Coleman said.
The first Tiblow Trot wasn’t related to Tiblow Days; it was held in November. But the club members quickly realized that the event would benefit from being part of the city’s similarly-named annual festival, so the second annual event was moved to the Tiblow Days weekend.
Over the years, really, not much has changed. The course has been the same every year, save one when road construction forced some changes. It has only been rained on a handful of years and never canceled, though one year it was delayed.
Participation has been as low as 65 runners and as high as 200. Once the club added a two-mile walk and Kids Run or Walk nine years ago, participation reached as high as 300 or so.
For the past several years, they have had another organization time the runners from the moment they cross the start line to the moment they cross the finish line.
“Always before, we were calling out the finish times as they ran across the finish line,” Buhrle said. “It was rather archaic, but it worked.”
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the willingness of local merchants to contribute to the run, which is followed by a prize drawing for all participants and awards to the winners in several categories.
“I’ve heard a lot of out-of-town runners, people who come and do it for the first time, say that it’s got a small, retro-type feel to it, and I think the prize drawing is a part of that,” Coleman said.
*The above history was taken from a story printed in The Chieftain commemorating the event’s 35th year in 2013.