This Sunday, Benicians will once again come together for a run to raise money for Benicia’s schools as part of the Benicia Education Foundation’s Run for Education. This year is a little more special than most: it is the event’s 10th year.
The run had humble beginnings in 2008 when some BEF board members came up with the idea of a marathon fundraiser. The initial event drew only 200 runners and five sponsors: Raley’s, Courtyard Customs, Valero Benicia Refinery, Umpqua Bank and Benicia Magazine, then known as Inside Benicia. The latter three companies have continually sponsored the run for 10 years, Race Director Lisa Koenen said. By 2010, the event had blossomed to more than 1,000 runners and more than 20 sponsors. Eventually, the foundation had to install more portable bathrooms, more volunteers and new systems to accommodate the growing crowds. The event has only become more successful. Last year saw 700 runners turn up despite rainy weather for the first time in the run’s history. Organizers say the forecast is looking sunny and registration numbers so far are actually higher than last year.
Koenen said challenges have come up this year, including frequent rainy weather, having Spring Break so close to the event and growing competition from other runs.
“In the last 10 years, running has grown such a great amount,” she said. “Everybody’s always trying to jazz it up with whatever run they’re doing, whether it’s the Bubble Run, Color Run, Fun Run, Giants Run. There’s so many runs out there that I think there’s a little more run fatigue than there was 10 years ago.”
However, this year will feature several new components, including the Staff Dash, in which Benicia Unified School District staff sprint from the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot to B Street to compete for a first-place title. Confirmed participants include Superintendent Charles Young, Matthew Turner Elementary School Principal Stephen Slater, Benicia Middle School Principal Damian Scott and two of Benicia High School’s vice principals, but the invitation is open to all BUSD staff.
As an added incentive, the schools with the highest participation rates in this event will be awarded $500 mini grants, one at the elementary level and another at the secondary level. The race will be held ahead of the Kids Run at 9:30 a.m.
“(We’re) hoping that it will be a fun spirit booster,” Koenen said.
Also, in addition to an in-person pre-registration event at sponsor Earthly Nutrition from 2 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 20, there will be another in-person registration event called the Carb Load Fundraiser at Round Table Pizza from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. where people can register for the event and pick up a bib or T-shirt. Koenen said that the foundation has only done a pre-registration event on the Saturday before the race only once before, and it is a good opportunity to beat the Sunday morning rush where people tend to register at the last minute. Both places are located in the Southampton Shopping Center, Earthly Nutrition at 872 Southampton Road and Round Table Pizza at 878 Southampton Road.
This year, the focus for funding is on college and career readiness. The goals are to provide mini-grants to district teachers and staff and help fund the Creative Wheel Program at the elementary schools, and financial planning and parent workshops at the middle and high schools. Koenen said the unity is what makes the event so great.
“Everybody comes together for one event,” she said. “We go to an auction for one school or a country fair for one school, but this is an opportunity for everybody from all different schools and the community to come together. It’s got a really great vibe to it the morning of to see everybody milling about and being excited to get off on their run or walk. Everybody’s coming together for one cause.”
“We have great schools, and I think people know that,” she added.
The day-of registration will be held at 7 a.m., Sunday, April 23. The 10K run will begin at 8 a.m. just north of B Street, although runners are encouraged to line up at 7:50 a.m. The 5K run and walk will begin at 8 a.m., and participants are encouraged to line up at 8 a.m. To register online, go to runsignup.com/Race/CA/Benicia/BeniciaEducationFoundationRunForEducation. For information on the event and registration fees, go to beniciarunforeducation.org.