It took Adam Creveling just less than 20 minutes to finish first at the first Race to Relay 5K race Sunday afternoon.
The event itself, which benefits Relay for Life of Penn State, was months in the making. Penn State senior Toni Mastropieri, the overall in charge of fundraising for the relay on campus, said she saw how other organizations had used races successfully to raise both awareness and funds for causes, and wanted to try it for Relay for Life. She approached two other students involved in community service and fundraising with their respective organizations, Ryan Jacobs from the Blue and White Society and Misha Demchuk from the Association of Residence Hall Students, who agreed a run was a good idea.
“We thought that a 5K would be really fun and would engage students and community members alike,” Mastropieri said.
The wheels were in motion and six months later, about 200 runners competed in the race Sunday, Mastropieri said, and drew a mix of participants. Many players on the State College High School girls’ lacrosse team participated. The team was looking for a way to condition, do something together and give back to the community and the race was a good way to do all of that, said assistant coach Chelsea Cameron, who ran with the team. Finding other ways to exercise outside of practice and playing was an added benefit of participation, she said.
“It’s important to learn about an active lifestyle, because you can’t always play your sport,” she added.
Some ran in costume. Matt Mullis, who started the Penn State student club Superheroes for Kids, was dressed as Captain America, complete with mask and shield. Members of the organization visit schools and libraries, and they hope to visit sick children in hospitals some day, Mullis said. The group is fielding a Relay for Life team and shows up for events in costume. He was accompanied by Batman, Green Arrow and Hawkeye.
“Anything involving Relay for Life, we’re there in uniform,” Mullis said.
It was the first time club members ran in a 5K as their alter egos, Mullis said. Most of the costumes were accurate down to the footwear. Only Brian Shumaker, dressed as Batman, ran in sneakers.
Others competed as a family. Tim Leydig and his wife, Carol, were up from Maryland visiting their daughter, Jennifer. All three wore numbers and took part. Leydig said he heard about the race through Jennifer, who works locally for the American Cancer Society, the group that benefits from Relay for Life. It was a fun way to do something as a family and support something good, he said.
“It’s a really great cause,” Leydig said.
Although Mastropieri will be graduating, Jacobs, a junior, and Demchuk, a sophomore, said they hope to be involved in the event in years to come.
“The turnout has been good this year and we can only imagine that it will grow from here,” Demchuk said.
The first first-place finisher will also most likely be back. Creveling, a freshman at the university, is a member of the cross-country club and heard about the event at one of its meetings. He said he runs in a lot of 5Ks and will probably compete in next year’s run.
Sunday’s race leads up to the Relay for Life of Penn State, a 24-hour fundraising walk, set to begin 2 p.m.April 11 at the Nittany Lion Track on campus.