CLARKS SUMMIT — The National Running Center and The Gathering Place hosted the fourth annual Strawberry Day 5K & Festival on June 30 with more than 130 runners participating.
The excitement for this family-focused event was palpable as runners from ages 6 to 67 filled Davis Street in the borough. The race, though, had a greater purpose than the medals or the running.
The National Running Center began a mutually beneficial partnership with The Gathering Place back in 2015 when the already-established Strawberry Day Festival merged with the 5K race. At the helm of this partnership is Ashley Shamus of The National Running Center.
From the start, the race has always been “designed to encourage a healthy lifestyle for all ages,” noted Anne Armezzani, events chairperson at The Gathering Place.
The mission of this event has certainly been realized as many family teams ran together this year.
“We see a lot of families that sign everyone up for the 5K. When you see your mom and dad running a 5K, you really get inspired as a child. So, it kind of has that chain reaction (and) it actually inspires them to run,” admitted Shamus.
Organizers of the event strive to improve every year. This year, they introduced finishers medals as well as oldest and youngest finishers prizes to highlight the many young children who run in the race each year.
In addition to the race, there’s also a Kids Fun Run for young runners who may not be able or have the desire to go the full distance. “It gives them a sense of accomplishment as they run about a block straight through the finish line; they even get a little (runners) bib and medal,” continued Shamus.
Amy Adonizio and daughter Hanna ran alongside friends Laura Pease and daughter Caroline. Adonizio, a first-time Strawberry Day runner, spoke to the purpose of the race, saying, “We’ve been preparing for a couple of weeks now. I just want to promote to my daughter that you should exercise and eat healthy every single day. This is an everyday thing, not just once a year.”
Clarks Summit resident Michael Yoder ran alongside daughters Anniston, 6, and Ellery, 9, who excitedly said her favorite part of the race was “running through the sprinklers.”
First-place winner of the 5K race was 32-year-old Michael Batyko, of South Abington Twp., who finished in third place last year.
Post-race, The National Running Center provided runners with cold water and fresh fruit. Free massages were also provided by Brandt Chiropractic and Wellness, PLLC from Dunmore. Runners and community members enjoyed festivities following the race in downtown Clarks Summit.
Vendors this year included Pallman’s Farms, which donated strawberry prizes for the runners; The Gathering Place, which hosted various kids’ games; The Key to Your Art Jewelry and Other Creations by Eileen Healey, Pampered Chef, Honesdale National Bank, Usborne’s Books, Tastefully Simple, Young Living, Paparazzi, Lulularoe, Sprint for Dogs in Service, Posh by Trish and Scholars in Training. Many area businesses offered special Strawberry Day discounts.
“This event is planned to bring the community together on a beautiful summer day and encourage families to support downtown businesses and restaurants,” noted Armezzani.
Reach the Abington Journal newsroom at 570-587-1148 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.