It’s that time of year again when citizens of the community come together to literally run for a good cause: strengthening Benicia Unified School District’s educational programs.
The Benicia Education Foundation will be holding its 9th annual Run for Education on Sunday, open to everyone from expert runners to first-time athletes. Runners can participate in two races. The 5-kilometer race starts at the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at the end of First Street, winds through West H, West Second, West I, West 9th and West K streets before returning to First Street. The 10-kilometer race starts at the Benicia State Recreation Area’s Ridge Trail, peels off into West K and H streets, winds through Military West and ends on First Street. The event has managed to attract a wide variety of people, even from those outside the community. For instance, last year’s 5K winner, Melvin Nyairo, came all the way from Yuba City.
Outgoing race director Teresa Zabrek, who has been helping new director Lisa Koenen in her transition, says more than 400 people have signed up for the event so far, but with spring break falling last week, she expects that number to grow this week.
“We hope to hit 800 runners with over 100 volunteers,” Zabrek said. “We may fall a little short of our goal since the focus this year was more on transitioning to a new race director, but next year marks the 10th Annual run so we are already thinking of fun ways to bring out the crowds to help us celebrate.”
New this year is a registration site called Run Sign Up, which allows applicants to register a team or family for one handling fee, among other benefits.
“This system is tied to Synergy Race Timing, so when people register their information is entered directly into the timing system,” Zabrek said. “People can register online right up to race start time with a credit card, and race results will be posted live on computers for people to get their results more quickly. We are very excited about all of the features this new system will offer to us as organizers and to our runners.”
Additionally, there will be an early morning warm-up presented by Benicia Jazzercise, a performance of the national anthem by Benicia High School freshman Kirsten Lambincio, sponsor booths on the First Street Green and an awards ceremony. The winners of the 5k and 10K races will receive Benicia Downtown Dollars, and the top 3 of each age category receive medals. There will also be T-shirts distributed with a logo designed by Benicia High alumna Alison Harris-Abbott, founder of the company Designs by AHA.
A big theme for this year’s event is ensuring that all BUSD students are prepared for college. According to BEF Vice President and BUSD trustee Stacy Holguin, while the foundation has been working to raise money for library and technology resources, she says the district has been able to stabilize funding in this area. Now the focus is on making sure the district provides funding to build college and career readiness for students at all levels.
“After numerous stakeholder meetings with representatives from each school, BEF is developing a plan that will support student and parent engagement at the elementary schools, middle school and high schools,” she said. “While this list is not exhaustive, we plan to support an expansion of the STEAM Wheel at the elementary schools; Math Support Lab and Naviance expansion at the Middle School; and guest speakers and additional resources for the college and career counselor at the high schools.”
Additionally, Holguin says the foundation will have a mini grant fund that teachers and administrators can apply for to support programs that will help with college and career preparation.
Zabrek says the event is very popular and allows people from all walks of life to come together to support a great cause.
“This is a great way to come together as a community to show our support of Benicia public schools,” she said. “Even if you don’t have kids in school it is a fun, healthy event to experience.”
The Run for Education will take place from 8 to 11 a.m., Sunday, April 10. Race day registration begins at 7 a.m. at the First Street Green, located at the corner of First and B streets. People can also register at RunSignUp.com or at Earthly Nutrition, located at 872 Southampton Road. For more information, visit BeniciaRunForEducation.org.