Members of the University of Richmond's Monument Avenue 10K Training Program will be competing in the 10th anniversary of the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K race this Saturday, March 28.
Twenty-five faculty, staff and students have been training for the race for the past 10 weeks with nationally recognized athlete and coach, Andrea Randle.
Randle works as a multisports trainer for the Department of Recreation and Wellness to help promote physical activity among the campus community.
Seth Hickerson, assistant director of Fitness and Wellness, said that he and Randle had hoped to expand the training program further, with the goal of attracting an annual representation of more than 150 participants.
"We want to represent the University of Richmond on the start line every year," he said.
The program is in its first year, and 21 of the 25 who participated in the training will compete with about 35,000 other runners, joggers and walkers.
The training program was open to people with little to no running experience as well as to advanced runners, Hickerson said. Randle said she had thought the diversity of the group, coupled with people's enthusiasm, was the best part of doing the program.
"We do everything together and no matter who finishes first, we always turn back for the last person," she said.
For some of the group, such as Judy Mejia, who works for the Center for Civic Engagement, this is the first time running and taking part in an actual race event. For others, such as student Charlotte McPherson, this will not be their first time taking part in the Monument 10K.
Law student Cerissa Cafasso said that it had not been just the goal of running in the race that attracted her to the program, but taking part was a way for her to develop a lifestyle of fitness and to get out of the library.
Kate Rivard, who works in the admissions office, said that being a part of the program had provided great networking, and she had been able to make connections with faculty and staff she would have never known.
The program also included nutritional guidance, shoe fitting and coaching in stretching and running, sophomore Dan Schauder said.
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"I didn't know what to expect," he said, "but it was all an extra bonus."
Schauder also said that the training ended up costing him only $15 instead of the original $40 because the Department of Recreation and Wellness paid the race fee for the entire group.
Hickerson said the way the program brought people together and helped establish friendships in a fun and friendly environment had been an important additional benefit of taking part.
The group runs twice a week on the university campus and all other training is expected to be done by members on their own time.
"If I can't come, they meet on their own," Randle said, "and I can see that continuing after the race."
The group has formed friendships and keeps in touch with each other, Randle said. The women in the group have also set their sights on running in the "Run like a girl" 8K race once they complete the Monument 10K, she said.
Three weeks ago, the group did great during a mid-program practice race, she said.
"I think people are going to blow themselves away, they don't realize how fast they are going to be," she said about the actual race day.
Everyone feels ready and prepared, thanks to the amazing training that Randle provided, Mejia said.
But the race isn't just about competition. Mejia said training for the Monument 10K has had a personal touch on her life since two years ago her 25-year-old sister's illness was diagnosed as leukemia.
"My training and me doing this race has gotten everyone excited and hopeful," she said.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, which treats Mejia's sister, is the official non-profit fundraising partner of the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K. So far, Mejia has raised almost $2,000 in support of the Massey Fundraising Challenge.
"There are a lot of people raising money for cancer," said Mike McCormick, Sports Backers communications director.
Sports Backers is a charitable non-profit organization that brings events, activities and programs to Richmond, including the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K.
Teams and individual runners raised half a million dollars last year, he said, and they look on track to do the same again this year. All of the money stays in Richmond and helps benefit the development of cancer research at the Massey Cancer Center, he said.
Randle herself is a member of the Massey Fundraising committee, promoting others to enter teams to raise money for the cause.
There is walk-up registration available March 26 and 27.
Information on the Massey Fundraising Challenge is available at www.masseychallenge.kintera.org
Contact writer Sarah Blythe-Wood at email@example.com
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