Runners honor Janowitz in Anna Banana 5K
The Anna Banana 5K race is an event that will always have special meaning.
Saturday at Connected Lakes State Park marks the sixth year Anna Janowitz will be honored with people participating in the sport she loved.
A cross country runner at Fruita Monument High School, Janowitz was killed in a car accident in 2002 on her way to practice. Fellow cross country runner Prudence Daniels was also seriously injured.
Daniels’ mother, Martelle, organizes the 5K, and said she expects more than 200 runners to enter.
“We get the same core that continue to run it in every year,” Martelle Daniels said. “But it still grows every year.”
Proceeds from the $25 entry fee (runners receive a long-sleeved T-shirt) benefit the Anna Lee Foundation, which awards scholarships every year. Martelle Daniels said the foundation awards at least one scholarship to each of the four Grand Valley schools.
The most important part of the race for Daniels is remembering Janowitz.
“Every year we have new people running the race, and they seemed really touched when they come to the race,” Daniels said. “They see pictures of Anna, hear about her life and how she died. She touched so many people, and that seems to connect with people so that they want to keep coming back to honor her.”
The citizens race begins at 8 a.m., with race-day registration starting at 7 a.m.
The high school race will immediately follow the citizens race.
This year’s race features two Front Range schools, Mountain Vista of Highlands Ranch and Vista Ridge of Colorado Springs, in addition to Western Slope schools.
The race is Fruita Monument’s home race, and should bring out the best in the Wildcats’ runners.
“I hope that all of our kids can run since it’s our race,” Fruita Monument coach Herb Huskey said. “The kids love the course and we hope to place as a team in the top two.”
The Wildcats also want to do well in the race to honor the race’s namesake. Although the majority of the runners on this year’s team never personally knew Janowitz, Huskey tells them about her before the season.
“We make sure they know the whole situation and why the Anna Banana is ours,” Huskey said. “They also get to understand why I get mad at them when they drive ridiculously to practice, because we’ve been through it once and we don’t want to have to go through it again.”
The Anna Banana is the final meet in the Grand Valley before the regional meets in late October.
The Class 4A Western Slope regional is Oct. 24 in Aspen, with the various 5A regionals Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 in the Denver area.