Organizing a 5K

I ran Serra Catholic’s Road to Trail Cross Country 5K in August, and I was struck as I participated by the atmosphere and the way the event perfectly fit a fundraising mission.

I finished second to last (the great thing about a 5K is that it is important to FINISH, not necessarily win…) and then sought out Brian Dzurenda, the Cross Country coach responsible for organizing the event. I wanted to highlight this kind of event for the POBUG group, as many of us probably have the resources and the enthusiasm (among our athletes and their families,) for such an event. In our conversation Brian passed along several good points.

First, a 5K is all about the race. A race timing company is essential, because there are several different categories to keep track of in addition to keeping track of the actual times of the racers. There are several different companies to contact; Brian used Smiley Miles for this race, but is familiar with Runner’s High as well. I have run other races timed by Falcon Race Timing out of Northumberland, PA, as well. If you are not in the central or western PA region, start with a Google search to find a local race timing company.

Secondly, make sure you have sponsors and student participation. For the Serra Catholic run, Brian did have community sponsors for the race as well as local businesses who donated food and/or raffle prizes for the run. In addition, he had the cross country team in on the action: each student-athlete participating had to raise $100 in sponsorship, invite 3 people, and had to volunteer at the event. In addition, each parent was asked to donate $10 gift cards (to any store or restaurant) which were used as door prizes.

Finally, as with all events, this is a yearlong planning process. Brian makes sure of the date, and arranges the venue. (The Serra Catholic 5K was held in White Oak Park, which, while it requires park rental fees, does not require as much work as blocking off city streets. Keep this in mind when choosing a race venue!) He also checks with possible conflicting races in the surrounding region. Finally, he spends time going to other races to get ideas and spend some time practicing for his 5K.

I can say from personal experience that I really do enjoy “running” 5Ks. The atmosphere is great, the dress code is decidedly easy to meet, and the activity makes you feel really wonderful, even if you are not going to win any prizes. If you have a devoted athletic following, this may be one event to consider talking to your coaches and Athletic Director about.