Run fun: It’s 5K season!
Ready ... Set ... Run!
Or walk. Or crawl through mud. Or jump on an inflatable moon. Or blast through color. Or race a “dead” composer wearing a tuxedo coat.
This spring and summer is Season of the 5K, and not just your standard 5K, although there are plenty of those. From Saturday, May 10, through the end of September, Mesa County will host nearly 20 different 5Ks — those are just the ones being promoted as of early May — where people of all ages can not only run and walk, but get filthy dirty, doused in color or scale obstacles all while supporting nonprofits, local causes or out-of-state, touring companies.
Longer races also are scheduled for this spring and summer, but the increasing popularity of 5Ks — at 3.1 miles, “they are easier to do,” said Larry Ingram, race coordinator with local running club Mesa Monument Striders — means organizers have to compete for participants, and participants have to decide how many races to support. And how many T-shirts they want because nearly every 5K has T-shirts while supplies last.
“Western Colorado has been the epitome of outdoor living, but it is amazing how many races there are for the size of community this is,” said Kristi Pollard, who runs in three to four 5Ks a year and helped organize a new 5K last year for Dinosaur Days. “It seems like almost every weekend there is some sort of run you can do.”
In fact, on Saturday, May 10, there are five (yes, five!) 5K runs/walks: the Insane Inflatable 5K in Mack, Addi’s Cupcake Trot 5K Run/Walk in Fruita, Beat Beethoven 5K in downtown Grand Junction, The Gauntlet in north Grand Junction and the Grand Valley 5K in Palisade.
Jill Henwood, executive director for Girls on the Run of Western Colorado, credited Grand Junction’s growth with an uptick in 5K races. She lives in Olathe and “there are a few (5Ks) in the Montrose area, but it’s not like it is in Grand Junction.”
The Girls on the Run recently held its annual spring 5K at Long Family Memorial Park but will team up with national company UV Splash Color Dash this fall to offer a different kind of 5K at night.
“These national ones have quickly become very big events,” Henwood said. “Mesa County is now large enough that these national chains of 5Ks come in and aren’t as worried about what’s (already) on the calendar.”
This summer, the Insane Inflatable 5K (May 10), Grand Valley Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K and 5K (May 10), Color Vibe 5K (June 28) and The Color Dash (July 26) are all organized by national companies stopping in Grand Junction.
Some will donate a portion of proceeds to local nonprofits. And some will compete with local events that typically dedicate all proceeds to a local nonprofit or cause.
“I can’t stress how proud I am to say we give 100 percent to Special Olympics, and it’s local,” said Linda Smith, executive director of the Western Colorado Contractors Association, which stages The Gauntlet on May 10 at Grand Junction Motor Speedway.
The Gauntlet and the Filthy 5K (Sept. 6) are similar to the popular, national Warrior Dash series where participants navigate a wet and muddy 5K obstacle course.
The new Beat Beethoven 5K (May 10), organized by the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra to benefit both it and the Avalon Theater Foundation, also is built on a concept from outside Grand Junction, said Jeremy Herigstad, marketing director for the symphony.
In this 5K, participants try to outrun Beethoven’s famous Symphony No. 5, which takes nearly 30 minutes to perform. The music will be pumped through loudspeakers and on Colorado Public Radio.
Of course, those looking for 5Ks without gimmicks will have plenty of options: The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival 5K in Fruita (May 17), the Mesa County Law Enforcement Torch Run/Walk 5K at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens (May 24) and the Community Hospital Magnet 5K at Eagle Rim Park (June 7) are just a few.
Whether you are a runner/walker/climber/jumper, there is a 5K option for you.
“The distance is not too much,” Herigstad said. “You have people who might do marathons or half marathons who will sign up because it’s an easy jog and supports a cause they really like. Also, you have people who maybe don’t run, so they can walk the whole thing in 45 minutes.”