The low temperatures and strong winds were no match for the scenery and community spirit at the La Porte YMCA’s 15th Annual 5k/10k Run-Walk on Saturday morning.
“The wind was a bit of a worry for us today, but running beachside is a good way to make up for that,” said Elizabeth Downs, the Race Director for the morning’s event. Taking place at the beautiful Soldiers Memorial Park, the course meandered its way around Stone Lake Beach, weaving the runners through the trees and along the lakeside homes of Pine Lake.
“You can’t beat the scenery,” said Rory Bunce, who ran the 5k course with this family.
Bunce, who's family's participation was sponsored by Hiler Industries, managed to earn himself a medal after finishing in the top three places in his age group.
“It feels great to medal, mostly because I’m not the odd man out in the family,” joked Bunce, referring to his three sons, all of whom also earned a medal in their respective age groups. When asked how it felt to earn a piece of hardware at his first 5k event, nine-year-old Jake Bunce summed it up with three words and an accomplished smile: “It feels great.”
Jake also made the conclusion that, although it was windy, the race was “definitely something I’d love to do again.”
“I think I might try the 10k next time,” said Jake. His brothers nodded their heads in agreement, while his dad smiled and shook his head.
“I think I’ll stick with the 5k,” he said with a laugh. “But regardless of the distance, this is just a great family event that everyone loves coming out to participate in, and it's just great that the YMCA can connect people in the community through events like this.”
Also present at the race were several running groups from the greater Northwest Indiana area, including members of the Calumet Striders. In fact, Saturday’s event served as an opportunity for members of the Striders to gain points for their Gold Cup running group.
“I do this because I consider myself blessed, because I have a fifty percent disability from a wound in Vietnam,” said U.S. Army veteran and Striders member Dave Hinshaw, who was one of the oldest participants at 73-years-old.
“I think more people should come out to events like this, because there’s a great connection with other people, and it’s also a great way to stay healthy and keep living a long life,” said Hinshaw. “What a great way to connect and to share in the world around us, it’s just a beautiful sight.”
Following the run, and after a classic post-race lunch of hotdogs, cookies, fruit and water, La Porte YMCA CEO Cindy Berchem thanked everyone who helped to make the event possible.
“It takes many volunteers to make these events successful, and at the YMCA we are always striving to do more,” said Berchem, referring to the programs that the funds raised from the race will go toward.
“We have a very robust scholarship fund, and our belief is that all people should have the opportunity to be a part of the Y’s programs, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Berchem. “Last year we raised $200,000 of financial assistance, and we are on track to exceed that goal this year.”
After the last hot dog was snatched up, and all the awards for the top three finishers in each age group had been handed out, the only thing more evident than the wind-burnt faces were the smiles that accompanied them.
"In that last stretch when the course opened up, it felt like we were almost battling against 20 or 30 mile an hour winds," said Hinshaw. "But even so, being able to come out here and just enjoy the company of new and old friends is a wonderful experience, and I plan to keep coming out for more years to come."