The word is out. More people are choosing to Run the Gump so that local children have the opportunity to attend summer camp.
“Every cent goes toward helping these kids go to camp,” said Michael Marion, executive director at Rise Up!, 1500 E. Millard St. “For some, summer camp is the only time children get to leave their homes.”
Run the Gump 5K had about 500 runners in its fourth year. There were so many on-sight registrations that the race actually started a few minutes late.
Marion said that the goal of the 5K was to raise enough funds to send about 60 children from the Rise Up! program to area camps like Doe River Gorge, Pathfinders and Appalachian Christian Camp. The camps partner with Rise Up! and divide some of the cost so that more children can come.
Many of the potential summer campers volunteered at the race and waved signs at the finish line inside Civitan Park thanking the runners for helping send them to summer camp. It’s those faces and the core cause behind the race that got a lot of people out of bed and ready to run by 9 a.m. Saturday.
Eli Elbers and his 9-year-old niece Makenna Elbers participated in the 5K for that very reason.
“This was my first race last year and I hadn’t ran in a long time so this has become an annual running event for me,” Eli said. “Makenna is one of the fastest in her class so I invited her to run with me.”
Two more family runners, Susan Boccarossa and daughter Caroline went through the course side-by-side. It was the first time they had entered a 5K together. Susan got the idea from her son Jonathan who goes to school at Providence Academy and his class volunteers at Rise Up!
“He told us about the race and wanted to do it and that’s why we’re here,” Susan said.
Plus, it’s a great opportunity for mother-daughter bonding.
“We just like to run so we do it for fun,” Caroline said. “It keeps us in shape and it’s just a fun family activity.”
Running a little more than 3 miles through the Gump Addition is no easy feat. In addition to the distance, the route is a bit hilly.
Josh King was ready to pace himself up any hill that stood in his way. Before the race, he talked about the ongoing friendly competition that’s been brewing between him and his uncle, Sun Sonekeo.
“For the past two years he’s beat me, so I’ve got to try and beat him this year,” he said.
Josh started running to lose weight and has been competing in 5Ks around the area with his uncle, each time hoping he’ll be the one with the better time.
“We sort of do our own training so we can see which one has a better technique of getting prepared,” Josh said.
Maybe all that talk about the family-fueled competitiveness gave the 17-year-old the edge he needed because Josh actually completed Run the Gump before his uncle Sun.
The increased number of racers this year led Marion to think that the event is progressing into popularity much like other 5Ks tend to do once word gets out about the course and the cause. Rise Up! also added an Easter egg hunt and bigwheel race to this year’s Run the Gump, which had its biggest attendance yet.
“This is a neighborhood race,” Marion said. “You go all through the trees and past front yards. It’s got a different feel to it.”