5K planned as part of inauguration weekend festivities

The Community Bridges 5K will incorporate a race around Grounds into the activities surrounding President Ryan’s inauguration

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Courtesy University of Virginia

As the University prepares to inaugurate Jim Ryan as President Friday, one of several events surrounding the occasion is the upcoming Community Bridges 5K. The race will begin Saturday, at 9 a.m. outside of the McCormick Road Chemistry Building.

Although an organized run isn’t the most typical way to celebrate a president’s inauguration, Ryan values the time he is able to spend running and said it provides him with a sense of balance in both physical and mental wellbeing. He already runs regularly with his wife Katie and appreciates their runs for the break they offer from the day-to-day aspects of working and parenting. 

“With four kids and busy lives, running together is often the only time we have in a day to spend time alone together and talk about more than logistics,” Ryan said in an email.

Ryan has also completed the Boston Marathon eight times, most recently at a 7:18 mile pace. 

Ryan said the 5K was the idea of his two long-time friends Mark Lorenzoni and Bill Antholis, both of whom are part of the inauguration committee. To ease the workload of putting on such an event, the University is partnering with the Charlottesville Track Club. The CTC’s Ten Miler and Women’s 4 Miler are consistently the two largest fundraising races in Charlottesville, and the Community Bridges 5K will also be raising money for the community — all proceeds from the race will benefit the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. 

CNE Executive Director Cristine Nardi has worked on coordinating nonprofit services for the 5K, incorporating service fair tables and other volunteer opportunities for nonprofits at the event. Part of the race registration fee benefits the CNE, while registrants can choose to donate the remaining portion of their fee to any of 280 CNE nonprofit members. 

Though some members have supported or held their own charitable runs in the past, this is the first time the CNE is serving as a community partner for one such race. Nardi views this community partnership as a way to strengthen the ties between nonprofit work and the University.

“We’re really excited about President Ryan’s strategic vision that includes community and service,” Nardi said. “It was a great opportunity to introduce … our nonprofit community to … the University of Virginia as a way to build bridges for possible future collaboration and partnership together in order to benefit the community as a whole.”

Leah Connor, an inauguration committee member and CTC affiliate, says that the CTC is also prepared to take on the task of organizing the inaugural race as a community partner.

“We thought it was good to partner with U.Va. on this race because we have a lot of experience with race management and volunteer recruitment,” Connor said. “We wanted to help … because we knew it was going to be big and important in the community.”

Aside from fundraising, she also thinks participants should enjoy the race.

“It’s also important that people have a good time, and be healthy, and enjoy the inauguration and feel like they have a part in it,” Connor said.

The 5K is already garnering all types of community members — the youngest registrant is just two years old, while the oldest is 84. The race is open to all types of participants as well, from seasoned runners, to walkers to those that just want to show their support. 

Students also add to the event’s diversity of skill level and intent. Fourth-year College student Lukas Pietrzak is one example of student involvement in the race and Ryan’s upcoming presidency. Pietrzak tweeted to Ryan last month, expressing his goal of going on a run with the president. 

“Honestly, it is my goal to have @presjimryan invite me and @PacharyZhillips on a run before 4th year is over,” Pietrzak wrote in his tweet. 

Pietrzak was encouraged by third-year College student Zach Phillips to send the tweet to Ryan, despite the fact that he expected no response.

“It was really just throwing it out there — Zach … and I had just come off a high of running a half-marathon, so we were like, ‘Yeah … we’re going to stay runners throughout the semester,’” Pietrzak said. 

When Ryan posted a video on Twitter inviting Pietrzak and Phillips on a run scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 6:30 a.m., Pietrzak said he was shocked.

“There was no heads up email,” Pietrzak said. “It was just suddenly there, and our phones blew up.”

Further surprise came upon arrival at the the run Tuesday morning. What Phillips and Pietrzak had expected to be a few of their close friends taking advantage of a unique opportunity turned out to be much more.

“I think we got there a little after 6:00, and there were probably already 50 people at Madison Hall,” Pietrzak said. “And then President Ryan showed up just about at 6:30, and I was blown away with how many people that showed up.”

In participating in the Community Bridges 5K along with now-recurring Tuesday morning runs, the inclusivity of Ryan’s running is set to expand. Pietrzak said that he anticipates Ryan to be a more involved president when it comes to the community. 

“The weekly runs plus the community event … I think [are] the first couple steps in showing the kind of president that he’s going to be and the connections he’s going to make,” Pietrzak said. 

Ryan identifies this type of community interaction as an intended product of the inaugural Community Bridges 5K.

“I think events like this are a way to create a bridge between U.Va. and the Charlottesville community, which is something that I care a lot about,” Ryan said.

As of press time, over 1,352 participants have registered for the 5K. Additionally, the University is awarding pizza with Ryan during the academic year to the dorm, school and Greek organization with the most registrants. 

The cost of registration is $25 but increases to $30 after 8 p.m. Friday. Participants can register until 8:15 a.m. the morning of the race. Registration scholarships are available by email request to the CTC, and coupon codes have been set up for certain low-income communities to participate free of charge. 

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