“We’ve had a whole lot of fun with it,” said Rowe, whose collegiate running programs benefit from the proceeds. “It’s been a fun type of fundraiser for us with it’s direct connection to Friday After 5 and all. We start and end it right in the middle of the crowd (199 W. Veterans Blvd.), and folks have really picked up on it the past three years.
“Also, the support we’ve received from Friday After 5, especially from Paula Vuksinic and Teresa Thomas, has been unbelievable. We’ve established a wonderful partnership with the city, and the way they have welcomed us downtown has been more than I expected.”
The community has come to welcome the race, as well.
“I think it’s really neat the way people in the city have picked up on this so quickly,” Rowe said. “We run the race through an older part of town, and the people along the course route have been very encouraging and helpful to the participants. They’ve come to expect it in early August and now they look forward to it.
“In three short years, this race has become a bit of a tradition, and we’re very grateful for that.”
And, the event continues to grow in scope.
In the first year, the race drew 160 participants. Just two years later, it drew 260.
“It’s strategically placed right before the high school season starts, so we get a lot of participation from those runners,” Rowe said. “Also I just think the fact that it’s downtown with a lot of people around has created a buzz that these young runners enjoy being around — they look forward to it.
“One of my goals is to get more of the older individuals in our great running community out there to embrace it. Hopefully, as the years go on we’ll get a larger cross-section of participants.”
Rowe said the ideal time for such an event would be September or October, but by then the high school season is well under way and the event would lose both the participation and energy they provide. Moreover, the Friday After 5 season has concluded by then.
Rowe said excessive heat and humidity has always been a concern, considering the date, but that so far things have worked out well.
“We say a little prayer to the Lord to bring in good weather,” Rowe said, “and we let Him take care of the rest.”
Pre-race signup fees are $15 (students) and $20 (adults). Those wanting to preregister may do so at runsignup.com (Friday After 5K), and also via the Friday After 5 website. Day of race signups will be held on site until about 6:15 p.m. Those fees are $20 (students) and $25 (adults). Individuals also may preregister for a 2 Mile Walk ($10).
Age-division medals will be awarded to those finishing in the top 4, and in the two youngest divisions medals will be awarded to the top 5.
In conjunction with the event, drawings will be held for numerous prizes, including a 3-night getaway to the Smoky Mountains.