by Kirby LindsayOn the evening of Friday, June 11, runners, joggers, walkers, strollers and assorted costumed folk bearing briefcases, filled with food, will take over 34th Street and Pacific Avenue North from Fremont Avenue to just past Gasworks Park. This spectacle is not just any 5K race, but the Fremont Fun Run, and Briefcase Relay.
Move Your Race
Brian Oster, of Pro-Motion Events, has been Race Director of the Fremont 5K (a.k.a. Fun Run) since 1991. Originally the race had been designed as part and parcel of the Fremont Fair, and staged the Friday night of Fair weekend. Yet both events grew until neighbors, who felt overwhelmed by both Fair vendor load-in and race disruptions happening simultaneously, demanded a change. One of Oster’s earliest challenges came in moving the Fun Run a week earlier.
“At first we thought it would be the kiss of death,” Oster recently recalled. “Any time you move an event,” he explained, off its traditional date, you lose participants, and momentum. “In the end, it has probably helped us,” he allowed, “I don’t think it’s hurt us.” The date change and, perhaps, Oster’s experienced race management, have created a presence for the Fun Run, beyond the Fair.
Carry Your Briefcase
The original idea of a Fun Run started, according to Oster, inside the Fremont Public Association (now Solid Ground,) producers of the Fremont Fair from 1974 to 2009. Fremont Chamber of Commerce Board Members, including past-President Jim Daly, came up with the Briefcase Relay, out of a need for self-survival.
It started with a notion that Chamber Board officers run the 5k to show support for the race. A no-show (chickened out?) and bright purple faces, undignified stumbling, and coming in dead last, among the others led to brainstorming a way to share the race. So was born the Briefcase Relay race.
The Chamber team challenged other neighborhood Chambers, the City Council and charitable organizations to run in a pre-event to the Fun Run. The teams carried passed off a briefcase, containing a Seattle telephone book, as the ‘baton.’ Runners wore business attire above the waist, racing gear below. Daly officiated, including training and installation of race marshals along the route. Any suggestion these marshals deliberately direct runners from non-Chamber teams the wrong way was meant only in jest.
Oster, and Pro-Motion, took over management of the Briefcase Relay, to form part of the Fun Run, about 1999. Since then, they’ve not only maintained but expanded the goofy race into something exceptional. Last year, according to Oster, approximately 80 teams participated in what he now calls “the costumed briefcase relay.” About 50% of participants wear the business attire, he explained, with the others in full-boat costumes.
In 2009, the race organizers finally solved the annual dilemma over the “official” phone book teams would carry in their briefcase, by changing the requirement to five “normal size” cans of food. After the race, participants (and anyone) can donate food at the FamilyWorks booth. Last year they collected 450 cans.
Join The Fun
With some proceeds from the race to benefit Solid Ground, in addition to the food bank donations, there are numerous reasons to run.
Registration for both the 5K, and the Briefcase Relay, can be done at the race starting line on Adobe Plaza (near Blue Moon Burgers, at 703 N. 34th St). To register for the 5K costs the same as each member of a Briefcase Relay team. With the Briefcase Relay at 6p, it can be a warm-up for the 5K, which starts at 7p, and is free for Briefcase Relay participants.
According to Oster, the winning time for the race, on the relatively flat course, is just under 15 minutes. “At least 25% of the runners will be back by 7:30p.m.,” he said, as the majority of participants treat this as a serious race – but not all. Walkers, parents pushing strollers, dog walkers and those who do a combination run/walk are welcome too. This is Fremont, after all, so dust off your Troll costume, and come down to join the fun of a run!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.