People warming up before a run | Pexels
The annual Red White Run 5k hosted by the Wright State University (WSU) Air Force ROTC Detachment 643 allowed participants to run in-person this year on April 3 while allowing others to complete the race virtually.
The in-person race, which occurred at Elvin R. King Cross Country Course in Cedarville, required registration through the event’s website and limited participation to 80 runners. The virtual component, which allows runners to compete wherever they desire, is taking place between April 3 and 10.
Raising money for a good cause
A crucial part in planning this race, according to the 2021 race director Sarah Rovinsky, was flexibility.
“As a staff, we fielded many changes that required our immediate attention and problem solving,” Rovinsky said. “Coordinating sponsorships was significantly more challenging than in previous years due to the financial strain many businesses and individuals have faced during the pandemic.”
The race was originally set to be held at the WSU Dayton campus but relocated to Cedarville due to university guidelines.
Proceeds from the Red White Run 5k go to support Fisher/Nightingale Houses Inc., a local organization that provides physical and mental support to veterans and their families. Over $3,300 has been raised for the organization during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Rovinsky.
Since Fisher/Nightingale Houses Inc. is government-owned-and-operated, it is more difficult to take certain actions to support house managers and guests such as purchasing food and gift cards, putting on special events and making certain purchases such as storage buildings.
The organization manages two houses by Wright Patterson Air Force Base and one by the Dayton VA Medical Center, which includes 37 suites.
“If [the organizers of the 5k] donate $2400 to us, that will take care of the equivalent of 80 nights in the three houses,” director Chris Stanley said.
Stanley estimates that the race has raised $10,500 for Fisher/Nightingale Houses since it commenced in 2017.
One of the participants in this year’s event is 2020 race director Rachel Croyle.
“Once you leave the 5k, you always want to support the 5k,” Croyle said. “That’s why I’m running it this year.”
The future of hybrid 5ks
A benefit of hybrid 5k races is that they allow more people to participate. Runners in the area can receive the in-person racing experience while others, including those who have scheduling conflicts or live in remote locations, can run virtually.
“The Air Force Marathon being hybrid would allow many officers that are all across the country to participate, without having to leave their job,” Campus Recreation logistician Eli Gerkensmeyer said.
Croyle, a University of Dayton student, sees these hybrid races benefiting military students who move away after receiving their degrees.
“It’s great for especially our alums that have come from our detachment to be able to run it wherever they go,” Croyle said. “With the military, we spread out after graduation wherever we may be, and there are a ton of people that have supported in the past that are also military-affiliated or move away for whatever reason.”
Rovinsky says there is a definite possibility that the virtual component will continue with future 5k races.
“This year’s race tested what could be possible for us and due to its success, I hope they will continue to provide this opportunity to participants,” Rovinsky said. “It’s an excellent way for runners who live out of state to be able to get involved and contribute to an awesome cause.”