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Henderson race’s finish-line reward: Grub, sweat and beers

Few races have someone standing at the finish line eager to hand runners a beer.

But 16-year Henderson resident Kobbe Shaw did just that at the first Fat Boy 5K/1-mile fun run in 2009, ready to realize his vision of a race for “the rest of us.” His plans led to an inclusive event that gives heavier runners a head start and features beer, bratwurst, roast pork and doughnuts for participants at the end.

The race returns for its 10th year Feb. 16 at Wayne Bunker Family Park.

“Our race is extremely accessible to a couch potato or someone who wants to change his or her life,” Shaw said. “Every year I get an email from someone saying ‘I never thought about doing something like this but I enjoyed your race and I actually got a decent time.’”

Shaw got the idea for the race from a similar event in Louisiana and brought it to the Las Vegas Track Club a decade ago. From there the idea was born to stagger start times based on weight and prepare a feast at the end to create a welcoming atmosphere for people of all fitness levels.

In the 10 years since, the event has had plenty of success stories. Shaw knows of one runner who comes back every year and gets less and less of a head start each time. Race director Tim Kelly ran into one participant from the inaugural event at a grocery store two years ago and discovered the man had dropped from 407 pounds in 2009 to 224.

“I didn’t even know who he was,” said Kelly, who is also the president of the Las Vegas Track Club. “Just a brand new person.”

Proceeds from this year’s event will go to the Las Vegas Track Club and the Tortoise Group, a nonprofit that protects desert turtles. Shaw estimated the race raised $37,000 for various charities in its first nine years, as well as promoted fitness to people who might otherwise be too intimidated to try a 5K or fun run.

“People want a spectacle. They want an event,” Kelly said of the upcoming run. “If you’re thinking it’s just a race, you’re missing out on half the experience.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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