St. Mary School in Canandaigua knows how to get people running.
Dozens of people lined up Aug. 26 for the school’s second-annual Chosen Run 5K race, which was part of St. Mary Parish’s Summer Festival. The race drew 59 runners and several walkers, with about 30 children participating in the accompanying Fun Run, said Ann Marie Deutsch, principal.
Although each runner paid an entry fee to participate, the Chosen Run is not a fundraiser, Deutsch said. Rather, the race was founded as a way to involve the school community in the parish festival, which runs for two weeks each summer, attracting thousands of people and bringing in a profit of at least $50,000.
“We wanted something that would draw a lot of people and attach us to the festival. We do it just to have the school name out there,” Deutsch said.
The school’s students and parents participate in fundraisers during the school year, so the school doesn’t depend on the race for income. St. Mary charges an entry fee only so it can break even after paying to have the race professionally timed and providing gift bags for participants.
The race provides an opportunity for the school’s parents and students to come together after the summer break, and it provides a fun and healthy event that the whole community can participate in and enjoy, Deutsch said.
“Our festival is right before school starts, so it’s a nice way to bring the school families back together to help with this kind of activity. This is such a great way to get everyone involved,” she said. “It really lends itself to the whole community spirit of the Catholic schools and the parish festival.”
Entire families came out to cheer for the runners, she added, and many entire families — including the Radak family — participated in the Chosen Run. Sharon Radak competed in the 5K race, while her husband, Gregg, led the pack of racers on his bicycle, helping them navigate the course’s many twists and turns. Their two children, 6-year-old Claire and 5-year-old Stefan, took part in the Fun Run for children under 12.
Claire and Stefan, who both went to preschool at St. Mary, loved the .3-mile Fun Run, Sharon said.
“It was a short run, just around a full block. They had a blast,” she said. “It’s a great way for a family to go out together and participate in an event.”
Sharon also was a member of the volunteer committee that planned the race, and in the months leading up to the Chosen Run she helped recruit other volunteers to man water stations along the course. She also helped recruit several organizations — including the Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce and the American Cancer Society — that donated small promotional items for the participants’ gift bags, she said.
The Chosen Run’s success was largely due to the support of dedicated volunteers such as Radak, Deutsch said. Many runners were also drawn to the Chosen Run because the 5K course was certified by USA Track and Field, the governing body for track-and-field events, long-distance running and race-walking in the United States, she said.
The course itself also was very popular among the runners.
“I like the course a lot because it goes through town and takes you around different areas of Canandaigua, and I liked the way it winds around different streets. I think it’s a fun course,” Sharon Radak said.
Fellow Chosen Run participant Angela Schnuerch agreed. A seasoned triathlete, Schnuerch said most 5K courses are square shaped and are made up of two parallel streets connected by two side streets.
“The Chosen Run had lots of turns, and it was interesting. The course was marked really well. I thought it was really excellent,” said Schnuerch, a member of St. Januarius Parish in Naples.
The Chosen Run course also included a lot of hills, which made Schnuerch’s finishing time of 21 minutes, 14 seconds a little bit slower than her normal time for a 5K race, she said. However, Schnuerch was still the first female to finish the race, and she and Matt Oberst, the top male finisher, each earned a $50 prize.
The first 100 runners to finish the race also won T-shirts, and the top three male and female finishers in each of the seven age categories received tickets redeemable for free drinks at the festival.
Oberst is a cross-country coach at Canandaigua Academy, so he competed in the race with several members of the team. None of them had ever participated in the Chosen Run before, but they all enjoyed it, he said.
“I thought it was a great run, especially for a second-year race,” said Oberst, a member of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Irondequoit.
The Chosen Run also was Gordon Jones’ first race, but it wasn’t his last. He and his wife, Jennifer, planned to run in the 16th Annual Bruegger’s Bagel Run, which was to be held Sept. 10 to benefit the Jewish Community Center of Rochester. He said he chose the Chosen Run for his first race for several reasons.
“I try to stay fit, and I like to do things that involve the church,” he said.
The Joneses have children in second grade and preschool at St. Mary and said they wanted to support the school. Overall, Gordon said he enjoyed his first 5K experience.
“It was great. They had a nice course, and it was a nice run,” he said.