Annual 5k raises money for athletics, attracts those of all ages

Kent Erdahl

With 15th Avenue mangled with construction and rain predicted for Saturday morning, this year’s ninth annual Gold Country 5k walk and run could have been a sloppy mess.

But the entrants navigated around the construction and the rain held off long enough for organizers, volunteers and runners to all deem the race and festivities a success.

“We were very lucky that it didn’t rain,” Deborah Diamond, marketing coordinator for the athletic department, said. “And it was still a great turnout.”

Scott Dannenbring, a Minnesota junior political science major, won the race, which is designed to benefit Minnesota intercollegiate athletics. Dannenbring, along with several others, used the road race to train for upcoming marathons.

But Dannenbring admitted that the festivities and carnival-like atmosphere of the day made it more than a typical 5k.

“It really generates a lot of excitement for running,” Dannenbring said. “It’s not like a regular road race where you just come and somebody wins and you just go home. There’s something for everybody no matter how fast you are.”

The field of runners made it through the road course and crossed the finish line at the Bierman Track and Field Complex. Those on the track consisted of young people not yet in high school, adults well out of college and even entire families.

Despite the wide appeal of the race, which began at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, the festivities are what made the event popular. There were interactive sports games, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, Minnesota apparel sales and a kids’ race around the track.

Student-athletes and employees of the athletic department volunteered their time and staffed nearly every post throughout the morning.

“It’s a fun time working with kids,” said Ben Hanson, a junior member of the track and cross country teams. “The community supports us and it’s our chance to give our support back.”

Most of the participants finished the race by 10 a.m., but the athletes, activities and food kept most of the runners and nonrunners around later.

Although it served as a fund raiser for athletics, Hanson said the event was about a lot more.

“I think it’s just more for fan awareness and interaction than anything else,” he said. “It’s a chance to show a different side of athletes and the positive role models they can be.”