story and photos by Brittany Ransom
It was a perfect spring morning for a run around the park, which is exactly what more than 100 Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren supporters did on Saturday (May 3) as they took part in the second annual "Life's an uphill RUN!" 5K event.
Presented by Rhodes Chevrolet, the race featured a unique course filled with several strenuous hills and terrain through the Van Buren City Park and surrounding area. Runners took off from the starting line in the Boys and Girls Club parking lot before making the more than three-mile loop and returning to the finish line at the Club.
Finishing first overall for the second year in a row was Ian Brecht, who completed the race in 17:36. Bryan Sunday took second place, with Remington Mulloy rounding out the top three. First overall for the women's category was Carrie Scrivner, followed by Danielle Brecht and Sarah Coles.
The event also included a one-mile fun run/walk which tracked around the lake located adjacent to the Boys and Girls Club within the city park. Many young club members took part in this year's one-mile fun run, after spending several weeks training after school at BGCVB. Parent and volunteer Stacy Dilley worked with the students to help prepare them for the event.
"Stacy contacted me and asked if she could start a running club in our after school program to help get some of our kids interested in running," said Cindy Faldon, BGCVB executive director. "It has been a huge hit. The kids love it and were really excited to put their training to good use and run like the adults. We are really proud of them."
The entry fee for all the junior running club members was waived and each participant was presented a "Fun Run" medal at the awards ceremony. BGCVB plans to continue the running club to keep its members staying active year-round.
In addition to the 5K and one-mile races, the event included fun activities for family members and race supporters. Many kids jumped in the bounce-around before making their way over to the grill for a hot dog and snacks. Several race participants walked away with door prizes, which included gift cards, gift baskets and other items.
Entry fee for the event was $20 in advance or $25 the day of, and included registration costs, a goody bag, and a dri-fit "Life's an uphill RUN!" race t-shirt. Medals were also presented to the top three finishers in each age category of the 5K.
At the awards ceremony, board member Jim Petty explained to the audience the significance of the 5K's name and "hilly" theme.
"When we were originally planning this event, we discussed whether or not to utilize the park since the course here does involve so many hills," said Petty. "But the more we thought about it, we realized that the course is representative of the uphill battles that many of our club members face every day in relation to their home life and obstacles they face daily. We thought it was only appropriate that this event reflect that, hence the name and course."
All proceeds from the event benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, which averages more than 200 children daily in its afterschool program. The organization also operates sports teams, and a full summer program that focuses on building character and self-esteem in its young members, as well as strives to keep them healthy, active, and safe.
"Last year was our first year to have the 5K and we are pleased with how much it has grown in such a short time," said Faldon. "We had more sponsors and more participants this year, and we are so grateful for how the community came out to support this event."
For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren, visit its website, or call (479) 474-9401.