By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian
Pierpont Community & Technical College will hold its annual Veterans 5K Race on Thursday.
The event will begin with registration from 5-6 p.m. at Veterans’ Square in downtown Fairmont.
All proceeds and registration fees from the 175-200 expected participants benefit student veterans organizations, services and scholarships. Registration for the races is free to veterans and active military personnel.
The 5K starts at 6:30 p.m., and the Kids’ K Race begins at 6:15 p.m. The mascot invitational starts at 6:20 p.m.
The 5K course begins at Veterans’ Square and goes from Adams Street to Jefferson Street and across the High Level Bridge.
Runners then head up a hill along the Gateway Connector, and they will reach the steepest part of the course on the way to East Marion Park and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.
“That hill — anyone who has either walked, run, ridden or driven up that is aware of just how long and steep it is. It’s over a mile of a climb,” said race director Ron Weist. “Then, when you get to that, you’re not done. You’ve got to turn around and come back down the hill on already tired legs until you cross the bridge and then another uphill climb to the finish back at Veterans’ Square.”
The Kids’ K race, for children 10 and under, will also start at Veterans’ Square, and participants will run approximately 200 yards to the courthouse before reaching the finish line.
Pierpont’s Early Childhood Education program will hold activities for children throughout the event so they can play while their parents race, Weist said.
Registration for the kids’ race is free, and participants will receive a bib, a shirt and a commemorative medallion.
The Mascot Invitational will immediately follow the Kids’ K, and approximately eight mascots from schools, businesses and organizations will run.
All participants will receive a race T-shirt and refreshments after the event.
The top runners in each division, which are categorized by age in groups of 10 years, as well as the top overall men’s and women’s finishers in the 5K and the winner of the male and female veterans’ category, will receive potted daffodils that were specially ordered for the event.
The race’s title sponsors are the West Virginia High Technology Consortium and Rider Pharmacy, and Muriale’s Restaurant will provide dinner for runners once they cross the finish line.
“Really, this event and the people that sponsor it is a natural extension of who we are as a community and technical college,” Weist said. “We work with people from all walks of life in the community, and we have a special fondness for our men and women who have served.
“This was just one way that we could think of to not just do something to honor them, but to do something tangible by raising money that can have a direct impact on veteran students who are here, getting an education, trying to improve the lives of themselves and their families.”
Email Chelsi Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.