Written by Pam Sherman on October 3, 2012 published in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY
The last time I ran a 5K I was driven away in an ambulance because I passed out. That was eight years ago, and I haven’t run another one since.
My husband jokes it was my way of getting to the finish line the fastest.
Before that dramatic finish, I used to run 5Ks all the time. It was my doable road race. Even if you don’t run a lot you can pretty much put on your sneakers, run a 5K and feel accomplished. A 10K is a bit harder. And all those other races — half marathons, marathons and triathlons — seem to require big lifestyle changes.
For the first time, I recently saw my neighbor running along my favorite route. She told me she was training for a 5K. I asked if she’d run one before, and she laughed and said she’d never even run before. Her friends signed up for a race, so she decided to. But she told me she’s very competitive, so she’s been practicing, and I should have warned her that that was part of my 5K downfall.
At the start line I’d always feel pressure to run as fast as the eventual winners. But then the fact that I was a jogger, not a runner, would become evident and I couldn’t keep up. When the women in the 75-to-90 age category were passing me, it was time to stop the madness. Now I run 5Ks in my mind, and I win every time.
I first came to run 5Ks by planning them as a way of raising money in honor of a friend who died. In our grief-driven stupor we all said, “Hey, kids, let’s put on a race.” It was a beautiful run through tree-lined streets with water stations that reflected our friend by having her favorite M&Ms beside the water. Of course, she never ran in her life, so I’m certain she was laughing at all of us.
It was a lot of work to raise the money, too. You had to secure street permits, police protection and get all those prizes and T-shirts. As it started to grow, it got harder still (way too many Porta-Potties), so we decided to switch to our natural default, throwing cocktail parties to raise money.
Which is why I love the Photo Finish 5K concept. Organized by the George Eastman House as a fundraiser for the museum, and as a tribute to the legacy of community-driven philanthropy of George Eastman, the race allows organizations to form teams and raise money for their own causes in a race organized by someone else.This is huge. Charities use the Crowdrise platform to raise funds online, and the museum has to get those permits and Porta-Potties. Last year, the inaugural year of the race, there were more than 1,000 runners and 63 teams. This year, the race takes place Saturday (photofinish5K.eastmanhouse.org).
One of the teams is Crosby’s Fund, which was formed by Zoe Wilmot and Carolyn Linehan to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in honor of young Crosby Wilmot. He passed away at the age of 2. Last year, Zoe, Crosby’s mom, turned to Carolyn for help in fundraising, and when Carolyn heard about the Photofinish 5K race, she jumped into action.
More than 250 runners registered to race for Crosby’s Fund, and what started out as a $10,000 goal eventually raised over $250,000. Zoe was incredibly moved by all her friends and family who ran the race last year, as well as all of Crosby’s nurses and doctors from Strong who participated.
But the most moving moment was when her husband’s most competitive friend slowed down at the finish line to let her husband Kevin, Crosby’s dad, pass and beat him. I might even start running 5Ks again if I can run with friends like that.