Story by Christina Hedding
On your mark, get set, go! The Warwick Lions’ Club held its 26th Annual Labor Day 5K Race on Mon., Sept. 4 at the Warwick Valley Middle School. Hundreds of people showed up to complete in the 5K. All of the proceeds for the race go to helping the Warwick Community, High School Scholarships, and youth services.
This year the Lions’ Club was also collecting donations for the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. They will continue to collect donations for the next two weeks. Anyone wishing to donate to the relief effort can mail donations to the Lions’ Club.
The Lions’ Club had a strong turnout for the 5K race this year. “We handed out 650 numbers for the race and then we ran out of numbers,” Lion’s member and race organizer George McManus said. About 700 racers participated in the 5K and the Five Mile race.
The racers lined up at the starting line on West St. in front of the Warwick Valley Middle School and took off down the 5K course, which ended at in the Middle School parking lot. Excited family members and friends waited at the finish line to cheer on their friends. There were three different races: the 5K, the Five Mile race and the Children’s 100-meter Fun Run. People also had the option to walk the race course.
Participating in the races were people from age five to 80-plus years old across ten age categories: 10 and under, 11-15, 16-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80 plus. The Warwick Valley High School and Middle School cross country teams also competed in the race with their coaches cheering them on from the sidelines. Cross country coach, Mike Potter, announced the racers as they crossed the first line.
The overall finishers for the men’s division in the 5K race were Behailu Bekele-Arcuri in first, Nicolas Paheto in second and Brad Ackerman in third. The overall finishers for the women’s division in the 5K race were Shanna Beairsto in first, Kayla Schramm in second and Laruen Fox in third place. The overall finishers in the Five Mile race were Mike Chow in first, Elliot Ufres in second and Benjamin Nilsestuen in third.
Many racers were locals from the Warwick area, but there were also racers from Upstate New York, Connecticut and New Jersey participating in the race.
“This is my wife’s first 5K ever. We came up from Ringwood, NJ,” said Paul Neira. Neira and his son, Cristian cheered on mom, Racheal, at the starting line.
After most of the racers had crossed the finish line, the Children’s Fun Run was held. Children ages two to 12 years old competed in a 100 meter run on the lawn behind the tennis courts at the Middle School. The race was directed by Warwick Valley cross country coaches who managed to keep all the kids together at the starting line. First place finisher for the men’s division overall, Behailu Bekele-Arcuri, ran with the children in the Fun Ran to cheer them on and encouraged them to ran their fastest.
At the end of the race, Potter announced the winners in each age category for the 5K, the Five Mile and the Walking races. Each of the first, second and third place racers for all age groups received a metal from the Lions’ Club and cheers from the crowd. The top three overall winners received trophies and prizes for their achievement. It was a successful race for everyone involved, from racers to fans to volunteers.
“I would like to say thank you to the runners, our sponsors, the police department, the fire department, and all the volunteers out here today,” McManus said.