39th Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede still a big thrill for volunteers

WYOMING — Ken Shouldis had a pretty impressive streak going.

The Dover man may have missed the first Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede.

But he then ran in about the next 30 or so editions of the annual race.

It was only a few years ago that blood clots in his legs forced Shouldis to stop running.

“After running so many years, it was kind of hard not to do it,” admits the retired U.S. Air Force man, who’s now 80. “But I think staying involved with the club helped me get through it.”

Indeed, Shouldis will be out at Wyoming Park again early Saturday morning when the 39th annual Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede is run.

The event, probably the biggest on the Kent County running calendar, includes a 10K and 5K run as well as a 5K walk. As many as 500 competitors are expected.

5K runners start in the 38th annual Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede 5K and 10K run and walk at Wyoming Park last year. (Delaware State News file photo)

Organizers like to refer to it as “The Best Little Race In America.” It’s put on by the Downstate Delaware Striders & Riders.

The event is built on tradition — and it’s people like Shouldis that help keep the Stampede traditions alive.

The race program keeps track of a “10 Years Plus Club” of runners who have completed more than 10 Stampedes. Last year’s list included people from six different states.

Shouldis was one of only six people who had completed 30-plus Stampedes.

Since he can’t compete anymore, he’ll help out with the other volunteers. He said it’s the camaraderie that’s kept him coming back.

“You see the same people year after year,” said Shouldis. “A lot of them have been around for many, many years. So it’s enjoyable to go.

“It’s a big thing — a lot of old faces. … I always look forward to seeing some of the people I haven’t seen in a year.”

Dover’s Myles Standish is another Stampede veteran. The 72-year-old retired airline pilot has completed 20 Stampedes.

He won’t be running on Saturday, either. But for the past 15 years, Standish has been the guy responsible for making the race’s trademark wooden buffalo trophies.

Standish makes about 220 of the awards each year for the various overall and age-group winners.

“When I feel like it, between now and January, once in a while I’ll go out and cut a few pieces of wood,” he said. “So I do it incrementally all year. I enjoy it.”

Standish last ran in the Stampede two years ago and plans to compete again next July.

“I’ve always enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s always been a well-run event. It’s right here in our local area. We get lots of people and I just kind of like it.”

The fact that a lot of people do seem to return for the Stampede every July speaks well of the event itself. The post-race party at the Camden-Wyoming Moose Lodge has always been a favorite of event veterans.

“It’s very well organized,” Shouldis said about the event. “The after-party is a big thing. And people really look forward to getting one of those homemade wooden buffaloes.”

Shouldis says he has about four or five wooden buffaloes himself from age-group wins over the years. But he said it’s the friendships he’s collected that matter most.

“I’ve met so many people that I would have never met in my life if I didn’t run,” said Shouldis.

Notes

Race-day registration begins at 7 a.m. on Saturday and is $25 for non-club members. … Access to Moose Lodge Road (SR 15) via Willow Grove Road (SR 10) will be unavailable on Saturday so competitors should plan their trip accordingly. Access to the Moose Lodge for the post-race party will be available via Westville Road/Southern Blvd. … Proceeds from the Stampede and other club-sponsored events benefit the DDSR Laura Gondeck Memorial Scholarship and Addie Lessard Scholarship. Donations are also made to Adopt-a-Family, Adopt-A-Student and Give a Kid a Chance.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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