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Reaching the finish line: WKU Professor's involvement in 10K nears 40-year end

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Making a commitment to something for nearly 40 years is never an easy task. It takes a true passion to be devoted to one thing for that long of time, and it's something Dr. Carl Kell is all too familiar with.

After serving as a professor at the University of Georgia, Professor Carl Kell and his wife moved to Western Kentucky University all the way back in 1972.

"We found roots that we appreciated and people we enjoyed," said Kell. "Then I found the sport that I enjoyed so much. Indeed the sport's given me far more than I have given it."

The sport Kell is referring to is road racing - 5K/10K runs. The first one he got involved with in Bowling Green was the Wendy's 10K Classic in 1979. That race has now turned into the annual Med Center Health 10K Classic, but Kell's commitment to the cause has remained steadfast, no matter who the sponsor of the race has been.

"I was somewhat concerned with the way the race was being administered and the fairly lousy t-shirts they were giving out at this race," he said. "I said I don't know anything about this, but I can do better than this."

Kell took that idea and ran with it, eventually getting much more involved in the administrative side of these races, but specifically with this 10K race. With every passing year, Kell's role in the race's organization has gradually changed and evolved. 

"I'd say from working in race administration to doing the announcing at the beginning of the event, and then doing the race ceremonies at the end of the event," Kell said. "Which has turned into my role now in the twilight of the time I've been doing road races in Bowling Green."

Kell, who is the Professor Emeritus in WKU's Department of Communication, says he's learned many different things through his experiences with this race. The most important, however, is being able to provide runners with a great race day experience of their own - from registration, to shirts, to the course, and the race itself.

"It's not who you are, it's how you're treated," he added. "The history of the 10K classic are the ways that people have been treated with respect, courtesy, kindness, as well as showing them the best time you can show them."

After nearly 40 years, Kell has met a lot of different people along the way, and some of the friendships he's made are his favorite memory of being involved with this race for so long. But he knows that all good things must come to an end, which is why he felt like it's finally time to call it quits and run his final lap.

"I'll walk away with no regrets," said Kell. "The times and the people and the friendships and the work we've done has been most satisfying."

Kell will be the emcee for the awards ceremony once again as the Med Center Health 10K Classic gets started on Saturday, October 13, at 8:15 a.m. outside of Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium on WKU's campus.

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