The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

November 19, 2012

Runners to cross historic Rainbow Bridge during half-marathon

RIVERTON, Kan. — She's found a class ring, pieces of old letters and a bottle opener. But a dresser in the middle of Rainbow Bridge was one of Amber Tyree's favorite discoveries on her almost daily training runs across the iconic Route 66 landmark.

"That's been my favorite by far -- someone just plunked this dresser in the middle of the bridge and when I ran upon it I thought, ÔOK, who is in the woods filming me?'" she said.

And just Wednesday, she came upon a handmade marker left there in memory of a K-9 search and rescue dog, named "Lucky Duck," who died Nov. 7.

"I like how Rainbow Bridge attracts followers, seekers, mourners, furniture-leavers and me," she said.

For Tyree, a Baxter Springs resident, the historic bridge is about seven miles round trip from her home -- a minimal distance for a person who in September competed in a 50-kilometer run that took 8 hours, 16 minutes. The people she sees there often have come from much greater distances, all for the chance to stand on the only remaining bridge of its kind on the Mother Road.

"I see people from all over the country, and some of them from other countries, who stop there to take pictures, sometimes with an antique car or whatever. I feel like it's really still a  crossroads," Tyree said.

On Saturday, as many as 100 runners will pound across Rainbow Bridge during the 19th annual Old Route 66 Half-Marathon. No telling what lost or discarded items they might find, Tyree joked.

Under the direction of Scott Nelson at Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store, the event was inspired by Michael Wallace. He was the author of "Route 66: The Mother Road" -- the book credited with sparking the resurgence of interest in the highway -- and the voice of "Sheriff" in Pixar's "Cars."

"He said, ÔYou guys have the perfect mileage on Route 66 in Kansas (from Missouri to Oklahoma) for a half-marathon," Nelson said. "It's 13.1 miles."

The Rainbow Bridge is at about mile seven on that route. Runners will begin east of Galena at the Missouri state line and cross the bridge on their way to the Oklahoma line south of Baxter Springs.

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