I’ve long called Emporia my Emerald City. A term I starting using for Emporia one day as I came up one of the final hills northbound on the Kansas Turnpike at dusk. I’ve always loved Emporia and the way it shimmers in the distance a few miles outside of town reminds of the Emerald City.
Saturday, during the Dirty Kanza 200 event, Emporia lived up to that nickname I’ve given it. 1,500 riders took part in the race, in which riders took to the gravel (or mud in many cases) in 50, 100 and 200-mile treks, depending on which race the rider participated in.
Saturday was the first time I’ve been at both the starting and finish lines and saw the event through from start to finish. I not only had the opportunity to see the riders leave and come back from the rides, but I also had the honor of updating their progress throughout the day for the paper.
It was an incredible experience. There was so much electricity in the air between the riders’ energy and the excitement of the spectators throughout the day. The riders out there on Saturday endured so much from mud to flooded streams due to recent heavy and flooding rains.
As we lined up at the finish line to greet the riders as they returned, exhausted and covered in mud, the excitement was contagious. It was an honor to be able to work that day and update their progress and help spread the excitement through the web and social media.
We live in a pretty special community here. Truly, an emerald city in so many ways. Saturday was just one of the many reasons why I love this community.