Lafayette’s Reservoir Run for Education afoot this weekend
By Lou Fancher
There’s plenty of hustle and muscle even before the first runners blast off at 8 a.m. Oct. 22, at the annual Lafayette Reservoir Run for Education.
Two weeks prior, Happy Valley and Springhill elementary schools are lined up, neck-to-neck, in a heated contest for which school will win the early bird competition for most participants.
“It’s a tie at 115,” says Lafayette Chamber of Commerce executive director Jay Lifson.
“We created a point system that benefits each school when they add runners or volunteers for the event. The school with the most points gets a cash prize. We recognize a winner with two weeks to go and then a final prize after race day.”
Of course everyone wins at the gathering, for families and their four-legged companions, whose proceeds are mostly directed to local public schools. Sponsored by the chamber and the city of Lafayette, the 2-mile run/walk, 5K and 10K races invite runners of all ages to join in the fundraising effort. Last year’s 5K had three runners in the 80-99 age range and Eloise Kemp, the youngest runner at age 4.
In addition to the run that attracts serious competitors to dog walkers, a Healthy Lifestyles Fair offers free information from local wellness providers. Music performed by Stanley Middle School and hundreds of people who cheer the roughly 4,000 registered runners are a shoutout reflecting Lamorindan’s commitment to education and health.
Kim Stern is the teacher representative on Happy Valley’s Parent’s Club board. The third-grade teacher is in her 16th year at the school and stepped up for the job of coordinating runners and volunteers for the run.
“I love this event,” she says. “Everyone can participate. It brings out the best in Lafayette.”
The “best,” she says is “families joining a happy and healthy event with everyone in a good mood.”
When people come together to raise money for schools, Stern says a common goal unites the energies of marathoners, casual runners, walkers and people pushing strollers. The additional funds are a windfall for Happy Valley.
“We can buy additional books, extra balls for PE. It can help us where we fall short in our budget,” she says.
Kids who’ve registered for the race benefit from running games in PE and the enthusiasm of Principal Shayna Peef and several teachers who will participate. But mostly, Stern says physical fitness and training for the race comes naturally. “Our kids are running around all day, you can’t stop them.”
Nor will volunteer coordinator Kate Mason slow down her team at Springhill.
“This year I’m trying my best to win the contest to have the highest number of participants. We’re a small school but we have a great turnout: 28 runners at this time and tied with our closest competing school. No matter who is top, the money all goes to the schools. The more runners there are, the more money for schools.”
In her day job as director of people readiness for the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco, Mason’s focus is leadership development.
“The parallel to my work is that I see all types of people walking and running; maybe breaking a personal best record, or running with their daughter or son for the first time,” she says.
Mason’s 10-year-old son Cole is participating in his first 10K this time.
“He’s competitive and the 5K last year was easy for him so he thought, why not try something harder?”
Mason’s road warrior history includes one marathon — running the Honolulu Marathon to raise money for the Leukemia Society — and walking 39.3 miles over two days for Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer.
Stern says she’s not a runner but walks the Reservoir Rim Trail several times a week. Tied as volunteer representatives leading the two top-contending schools, they say they have already won when a community comes together to benefit local public education.