For the 24th consecutive year runners will toe the line for what is now known as the Don Osborne Memorial Run in front of the Oakdale Library on Saturday, Feb. 6.
An event first founded by Osborne, it continues to be hosted in his honor by the Oakdale Lions Club.
“The Lions have always been involved,” event organizer and fellow Lion Alan Graham said. “Ten years ago we took it over.”
As the first local run of the season, Graham shared each year the service club is challenged by getting the word out to solicit the interest of as many runners and walkers as possible.
The event hosts every aspect possible for the community member, be it a runner, a person looking to challenge themselves or one looking to take on a bucket list item. There is a registration fee of $25 for the 1-mile, 5k distance or both, with proceeds benefiting Oakdale Lions Club projects, making it a win/win. A long sleeve event T-shirt is included for those who pre-register.
Graham shared that much of the proceeds come in the way of sponsorship. He noted his gratitude for an increase in sponsorship this year. There are currently 19 sponsors making donations in amounts of $250 and $500.
“We’re running out of space on the back of the shirt,” Graham said of the sponsorship recognition, “but that’s a good problem.”
The Oakdale Lions Club is a 501c3 not for profit organization, which has serviced the town of Oakdale for over 50 years. Some of their most notable projects include: the Annual Christmas Shopping Tour hosted for children in need at Kmart, the flag project which lines the town with American flags on nine holidays each calendar year, Oakdale High School scholarships, Oakdale library donations, as well as serving meals for Oakdale’s Relay For Life, Oakdale Airport Open House and more.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t even know about this run,” Graham said. “So we just need to get the word out. We can’t spend a lot of money to advertise because we need the money for all the projects we do.”
According to Graham, last year’s field included 140 participants. The event at one time drew 200 runners and walkers consistently. He’d like to see that number return and possibly increase in coming years.
“We’ve always been the first run of the season. Do I wish it didn’t rain?” he said. “Yes. Do I think it’s going to rain? I don’t know.”
Despite the area being in a drought, the past few years have seen raindrops falling on the runners. With this year’s El Nino firmly in place, the likelihood is good there will be precipitation again on race day.
Graham added that the flat course is conducive to all fitness levels, from the young to the young at heart. Medals are given for the top three finishers in all age groups. Timing chips will be used on bibs for the first time this year, ensuring complete accuracy for the competitive participant.
“It’s kind of fun to get a bunch of people together and do this,” he summarized. “You never know who’s going to show up race day.”
Those that do participate enjoy both the camaraderie and the ‘giving back’ to the community through their registration fee.
“I’m very grateful for our sponsors,” Graham concluded. “Every sponsor from last year renewed. That’s where the money comes from to make this all happen.”
The 24th Annual Don Osborne Memorial Run will be hosted on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Oakdale Library, corner of West G Street and South First Avenue. Registration and packet pick-up begins at 8 a.m.
The 1 mile run begins at 9 a.m. and the 5k at 9:30 a.m. Awards ceremony to follow at 10:15 a.m. Registration forms are available at the Oakdale Library, at www.oakdalelions.org or by calling Graham directly at 209-602-8821. Checks should be made payable to Oakdale Lions Club.