By: Dylan Doyle, East Staff Writer
On Sunday, October 16, 2016, over 300 people gathered outside the entrance of Tri-C’s Western Campus for the second annual Autumn Blaze 5k. The goal of the Autumn Blaze is to raise money to be split evenly between United Way of Greater Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Community Shares and United Negro College Fund. More than $7000 was raised last year at the inaugural Autumn Blaze and the goal is set to reach at least $8500 this year. These goals are reached from the entry fees obtained to participate in the race, which are $25 for community members or $20 for students. Anyone who registers early was also given a $5 discount along with a bag of commemorative goodies including a water bottle and a t-shirt. Even if you aren’t a fan of running, but still want to donate to a good cause you can donate the entry fee without actually participating in the race.
This year the weather was an incredibly comfortable 70 degree range (a relief after the cold snowy weather of the previous year). This was complimented by the natural surroundings of the Western Campus which provided beautiful autumnal scenery for the participants as they ran or walked the perimeter of the college. The day of the race began at 8am with sign in before the participants gathered in the street outside to create a massive line of people at the 9am startup time.
“I’m hoping to beat my personal time. I’m hoping to place in my age group, but I don’t know we’ll see,” says Deidra Thompson, a student at the Tri-C Eastern Campus, before the race began.
Deidra said that she loves to run and although this is her first year attending the Autumn Blaze, she had participated in triathlons and other 5ks before. A call over a megaphone sent Deidra to the front of the group with the other runners. After a small delay, a call over a megaphone sent hundreds of people into action. Children as young as seven could be seen running alongside parents, students, and faculty members under the unified goal of completing the 3.1 mile journey to the finish line. One mother was even pushing her two children along full speed ahead in a large stroller. A real sense of solidarity could be felt among the participants during the race. It wasn’t about who was running or walking, but about everyone finishing the race. Deidra ended up missing her target time by a matter of seconds.
“I’ll get it next time,” Deidra said with a wide smile.