On Friday evening, hundreds of students, staff and community members filled with energy and anticipation gathered on Main Street to participate in the First Annual Friday Knight 5K Race/Walk. The event, hosted by the Geneseo cross country and track and field teams as part of Homecoming Weekend, was established as a fundraiser for the varsity sports team.
Race director Karen Merrill, a senior, arrived early Friday afternoon at Doty Park to begin registration and preparation for the race. "I've pretty much been doing a lot of things," Merrill said, noting that the team first began meeting last semester and into the summer to plan the event, find sponsors and determine a 3.1-mile course.
"I always thought a 5K would be a fun fundraiser," Merrill explained. "It could help the team travel to new places during winter break."
Track and cross country members agreed, stating that they were pleased with the turnout and that they hoped the event will become an annual fixture for Homecoming. "The team, who put so many hours into the race, will find that it paid off," said sophomore Erin Sutherland.
Throughout the month of September, members of the cross country and track teams became a constant presence in Milne Library and the College Union to register race participants, offering discounts to students, staff, alumni and teams. At the time of the race, over 170 people had preregistered.
Holding the event during Homecoming weekend added more significance to the race. "Geneseo doesn't have a football team, so there's no real nexus of Homecoming," senior Dan Gettings said. "We wanted to fill that void."
The race, which took runners from Main Street through the village and around much of the college campus to finish at Doty Park, added a special event to the weekend that any student or community member could participate in and enjoy.
A large crowd gathered in Doty Park prior to the start of the race, enjoying the music and feeding off of the anticipation. Cross country and track members were there to guide runners through the course and show support, but could not run because of a meet the next morning.
"I'm really excited for the race," senior Niki Gaiter, a participant and president of the senior class, said prior to the race. "It's for a good cause, the course is good, and I'm proud of Geneseo for having such a good turnout."
Team Awesome, a group of students from Livingston Hall, shared that sentiment. "We're pumped," they said. Junior Martha Hampshire, a team member, simply added, "We're glad to be part of the first race." In addition to students, staff members were also present and eager to support the cross country and track teams.
All runners gathered on Main Street to await the gunshot, sounded by assistant track coach Dave Mead, which signaled the start of the race. "I came to cheer on one friend, but so many people I know are running!" senior Jennifer Delcourt said. "I hope it becomes a tradition to bring the college and the community together."
Awards were given at the end of the race to top runners in several categories. Mark Streb, a student runner from Rochester, achieved the top overall male spot, while Joelle Mann, a community member, secured the top overall female rank. Complete listings of all the results are available at http://www.geneseotrack.com/homecoming.