With Hurricane Irene making her way northward, Lacey Township Municipal Alliance officials are carefully watching the weather forecast for this Saturday, Aug. 27, the day of their annual 5K race.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms but the Alliance is remaining positive.
One-hundred and forty people have pre-registered for the race and they expect about 300 to show up for the 5K, One-Mile Fun Run/Walk and Kiddie Dash at .
Registration will start at 7 a.m. with the race beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Bob Cort Lane entrance to Gille Park, near the roller hockey and skateboard facility. There is a new course this year, certified by USA Track & Field (USATF).
“The park is nice, fairly flat and some parts are shaded,” said Municipal Alliance Coordinator Heather Scanlon. “We’re also known for our food and our friendly volunteers.”
New to this year‘s race, each runner will be presented with a cookie from John the Cookie Man and a rose as they cross the finish line, Scanlon said.
“Running has become very popular and there are a lot of races,” said Scanlon. “We’re trying to be unique, so we wanted something to stand out.”
Another unique feature of the Lacey 5K is a grand prize drawing for a waterproof Garmin GPS device. Runners will pass two stations along their route, each playing the same song. Once runners reach the finish, they are given a chance in the drawing if they can name the song.
Through sponsorships and advertisements for the 5K ad journal, the Alliance has raised $9,350, which will be used for scholarships for Lacey Township High School students and substance abuse prevention programs. Last year, about $6,000 was raised.
There will be a contingent of about 30 runners who are completing the township Recreation Department’s Train for Your First 5K 10-week program. Instructor Nick Giovanni, a local running enthusiast who has completed 38 marathons, said the class has been one of the biggest surprises.
“The running club has been going strong all summer with at least 20 to 25 people, even in the hot weather,” said Giovanni. “I’ve been keeping them motivated and have seen them progress, getting healthy and strong and more self-confident. I have a couple people who can now outrun me.”
Giovanni said some of the students were new to running and some had run before but not for a long time. There will be those who will walk the 5K and others running.
An outgrowth of the Train for You First 5K class, was the club’s involvement in Soles4Souls, which collects and distributes new and used shoes to those in need. Giovanni said during one of the running clinics, there was talk about sneakers and what to do with old pairs, when they decided they could collect and donate them.
A bin was set up at the Shop-Rite in town, where Giovanni works, and about 130 pairs of shoes were collected in the last three weeks.
“Instead of throwing them away, they’re going on the feet of someone else,” said Giovanni. “We are blessed to buy them and can still bless somebody else with those sneakers.”
Giovanni said they will continue to collect shoes through Saturday. They will have a Soles4Souls shoe collection bin set up at the 5K in Gille Park.
Following the race, participants will be treated to food provided by Applebee’s and an awards ceremony will be held. First, second and third place male/female winners will receive medals. All Kiddie Dash participants will be awarded ribbons.
For more information, visit www.lacey5k.com.