The Downtown Dash 5K & Fun Run brought double the expected amount of participants for its inaugural event this past fall, and upon donating proceeds to City of Clinton officials this week, organizers said 2013’s edition will be “bigger and better.”
The first-ever event of its kind locally, the Downtown Dash 5K & Fun Run kicked off the Court Square Street Fair festivities in October, beginning bright and early the Saturday of the main fair event. Arising out of a desire to draw people to downtown Clinton while offering a healthy excursion locally, the event sought to attract runners, joggers and walkers from Sampson and surrounding counties.
Downtown Dash chairwoman Alison Bradshaw detailed the success of the first event, saying that the goal each year would be to grow the event and benefit the downtown in which it is held. Bradshaw said she was overwhelmed with the local support for, and participation in, the inaugural event.
She and other Downtown Dash committee members presented a check for $1,216 to Mayor Lew Starling and the City Council toward the purchase of a picnic table, which was recently placed near the City Market.
“The Downtown Dash was an idea that was born downtown, happened downtown and now our results are here downtown,” said Bradshaw. “If any of you have seen our new picnic table, that’s the product of our event this year. It was just an idea to try to draw more people downtown to see the streetscape projects that the city has worked so hard to complete over several years, as well as our new art work.”
Getting people excited about being active was another goal.
Leading up to the event, Downtown Dash members touted the first-ever event with being a great addition to local offerings, especially leading up to the annual fair extravaganza. While many people have expressed their interest in trying a 5K, they are generally not interested in traveling out of town to do it, they said. The Downtown Dash meant they did not have to.
The 2012 event’s title sponsor was Huff Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine, and they were joined by 15 other sponsors in helping fund the event.
“We spent three months planning for this event and couldn’t have been more pleased with how it went,” said Bradshaw. “Expecting 80 participants, we turned up on the street fair day with 160 people, so we doubled our expectation. And we hope to double that again this year.”
The proceeds from the race go to the Downtown Clinton Enhancement Fund, established by the committee to supplement the city’s efforts to improve downtown by providing additional amenities such as picnic tables, benches, historical markers for buildings and trash cans in key locations.
“The Downtown Dash Committee came together for the first annual Downtown Dash as part of the Court Square Street Fair activities this past October,” said Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose. “They did a wonderful job in providing a very well-organized and active event as part of the street fair.”
Bradshaw thanked Rose, the City of Clinton, the Public Works Department, Clinton Police Department and Beth Stewart, president of the Clinton Development Corporation, as well as the design committee who picked out the picnic table. She also thanked Starling and City manager John Connet for their assistance during the actual event.
“We greatly appreciate the efforts of all our city members and employees,” said Bradshaw. “To say thank you, we decided that our proceeds from each year’s event will go to some project downtown to enhance downtown. This year, we all decided as a committee to buy a picnic table. Some of us love to picnic downtown and we don’t have a table anywhere, so we decided on that project.”
Public Works crews installed the table earlier this week. Bradshaw said she hoped that would only be the start.
“This year we are bigger and better, and we are spending a whole year planning and we have a much more professional outlook this time and we’re hoping to draw runners from across the region,” Bradshaw said.
However, the goal will stay very much the same.
“The whole purpose of Downtown Dash was to keep it downtown and we did,” she said. “We managed to keep runners through the beautiful neighborhoods downtown, starting and ending in the new Vance Street parking lot. It was overall a wonderful event.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.