Friends 5K Fundraiser still a tradition in 2020!
By Tamara Whitmore

How does one “virtually” run a race?  Does it involve those virtual reality glasses while you sit on the couch, someone spraying mist at you to make it feel like you are sweating?  These were some of the thoughts going through staff and participant minds as the idea to keep the “Friends on the Fourth” 5K Race alive during a pandemic restricting gatherings of more than 50 people in the state of Maine.  With perseverance and a lot of research, the Friends staff pulled together an event in which 100 participants completed a 5K wherever they were, during the week of June 27th to July 4, 2020.  What the event lacked in day of excitement and the thrill of physically watching runners cross the finish line, it made up for in flexibility.  Participants who chose not to time themselves could break the 5K up into segments to make it easier to accomplish.  Participants who had never “run” a 5K before, such as myself, could do so without the overwhelmingness of hundreds of racers and spectators.  A quiet day at the Gardiner High School track meant that there was only my husband and a nesting osprey to offer commentary.   

While the 100 participants is only one sixth of what we would have hoped to have at a physical event where the holiday falls on a Saturday and the weather was perfect for running, it still resulted in a feeling of community and support through raising money for the Friends education and conservation programs that protect our lakes.  Over $5,125 was raised via registration fees, individual and team participant fundraisers and sponsorships from local businesses.  To recognize the unusualness of the event circumstances, a unique logo of Spotter the Otter running with a face mask and the words “Keep Calm and Run On” adorned the race t-shirts.  Participants were encouraged to take photos and share online, in celebration of community and the holiday.  

A huge thank you to all who walked, jogged, ran, waddled or otherwise hurtled their body a distance of 5 kilometers!  Another huge thank you to our major sponsor, Homestead Realty of Winthrop, and our supporting sponsors, below.  And an enthusiastic thank you to friends, family and neighbors who made donations in support of the participants; it’s good to feel supported when you are doing something for a good cause!  

CONGRATULATIONS to our overall winners:  Overall Male, Christian Beliveau (19) of Auburn, ME with a time of 19:25.  Overall Female, Julie Bradstreet (50) of Waterville, ME, with a time of 23:10. 

Thank you to our Business Sponsors:

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