It was a day I can only hope many will not soon forget, as Saturday, March 9 marked the 10th Annual Support Oakdale Schools (SOS) Fun Run.
“This is a good problem to have,” I found myself saying on multiple occasions last Saturday, as the Cloverland Elementary School multi-purpose room and parking lot overflowed with eager runners. There was just one problem, either they hadn’t registered or they had found the wrong line in search of their race number – in short it was chaos of the finest kind.
As a third year volunteer and a 10th year participant of the event I not only understood the excitement of the runners but the confusion of their parents. This was once my first race too and the not knowing can be both frustrating, as well as overwhelming.
Yet as I looked to the faces of so many eager little runners wearing red SOS race shirts and we each worked at reassuring their parents their child would run, I just felt grateful.
That gratitude continued upon learning we had a new record with 413 registered participants and a total of close to $10,000 raised to support Oakdale schools.
The SOS Fun Run volunteer team was well equipped with veterans and professionals by way of problem solving and customer service. As the team worked feverishly the glitches were worked out and the event got its start about 15 minutes later than scheduled.
The 2019 SOS Fun Run saw its largest “day of” registrants as well as overall runners to date. A fact which many credited to the questionable weather, as rain had occupied much of the early season.
Saturday, however, the clouds took a break and allowed a total of over 200 one mile and 164 5k runners to take to the streets and run for Oakdale schools for the 10th consecutive year.
There are many things which make this run both unique as well as heartwarming. The joy on the faces of the children as well as their families as they line up at the start line and later cross the finish is one such notable moment. To see teachers running with their students, often times holding hands or simply cheering one another on is pretty special stuff.
Parents, grandparents, friend groups and classrooms have all made the event a fun tradition, which each year seems to just grow a bit larger.
Oakdale’s own Pete and Becky Simoncini served as escorts to the one mile course’s youngest runner, as they shared their love of running with two-year-old granddaughter Emma Simoncini. As their granddaughter approached the finish her excitement got the best of her and as two-year-olds do, she fell down and went boom. Being the supportive grandmother that she is, Becky carried the youngster across the finish as she was celebrated by the crowd.
Five-year-olds Ivette Imura and Jaxin Anderson proved to all in attendance that you are never too young to face a challenge. They were the youngest to cross the 5k finish line.
While the rain stayed at bay, the wind did its fair share to keep the crowd well bundled. As the final 5k runner crossed the finish, as a committee we thanked the participants, as well as sponsors and volunteers for their efforts.
Oakdale hosts more than one Fun Run, yet there is something extra special about this event and the way in which the community continues to show up and support it.
As we prepared to give awards to the top three finishers by age group for each distance, I couldn’t help but look at all the faces and inquire aloud, “who will be back next year?” Arms of both young and old flew into the air, indicating that while we may have had a rough start the end goal was achieved – they had had fun.
Something so simple, yet so fulfilling all the same. A handful of volunteers, a community of sponsorship support and a crowd which definitely succeeded in putting the “fun” in the 10th Annual SOS event.
Look for Top 3 finishers results in the March 20 edition of The Oakdale Leader or find results on the event website at www.sosfunrun.com.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.