“Just keep going….just keep going…,” student body president Tiffany McHugh recited in her head. This was the day she had been working toward for months. McHugh rounded the final turn of her 10k run and could now see the finish line.
From nearly a half-mile away, cheers and music could be heard blasting from the Smith-Martin courtyard. It was the finish line for the first-ever Raven Run.
McHugh competed in the race, as did various faculty members, including President John Pistole. Pistole joined in the pre-race fun to lead a group stretch alongside Rodney the Raven and student body vice president Eric Stone. Dr. Brent Baker particpated in the fun and blew the airhorn to get the race started.
AU Residence Life put on the run “in order to raise money for the Hope Pregnancy Center in Anderson and another portion of the profit will go towards programming for students living in the Resident Hall,” said Assistant Dean of Students for Resident Life Tamera Shelton.
The inspiration for the run came from an effort to host a great event and bring the community together. “We became very excited about this idea because of the potential it had to bring the community together: students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective stidents, and community memebers,” added Shelton.
The resident directors of each campus residence hall put hours of work into planning the event. Several groups volunteered to pass out water, including ISA, Massey Scholars, Admissions Crew, L’amifidel, and Camarada. Over 200 runners were in attendance for Saturday’s events, ranging in age from 2 to 70.
The early morning brought nearly 40 mph winds, challenging runners as they faced the wind head on. Throughout the race, water stations and fans encouraged the runners to persevere through the tough conditions.
Family and friends made posters and cheered on the competitors all throughout the routes, keeping the upbeat atmosphere alive during the race. “I had a blast running the 5k. The RAs were spread out along the course chering the runners on, and this was so fun and motivating for me,” said Shelton.
McHugh commented that she “enjoyed getting the opportunity to run through Shady Side with some of my classmates. It was a beautiful place to bond!”
The run included two different routes: a 5k and a 10k loop that ran alongside the White River. Runners crossed the Blue Bridge and the longer route ran through parts of Shady Side Park.
The winner of the first 5k run was AU sophomore and soccer player Alex Baker. “It was just one thing to cross of my bucket list, and I am blessed to be able to participate in AU’s first annual 5k run,” Baker commented. “It was an amazing experience to be a part of, and I can’t wait for next year!”
Despite the harsh weather, runners were all smiles as they reached the finish line. Each runner received a medal for their hard work and was welcomed at the finish line with a table of bananas, muffins and granola bars. Admist the music and cheering, community members took photos at the photo booth and mingled throughout the courtyard. It was a day to remeber for sure.
“Although there were a few glitches due to this being our first Raven Run, overall, it was a very successful event,” added Shelton. “We have so many ideas to making this bigger and better! We have already determined that next year’s Raven Run will take place on Saturday, April 1.”