In a Race to End Homelessness, runners will take their marks at the second annual Interfaith Hospitality Network 5K Race/1 Mile Walk Saturday, May 19 at the Riverwalk Shelter No. 3.
IHN, located downtown, helps homeless families get back on their feet, and this race will help the nonprofit in that mission.
"A lot of them are newly homeless families [who were] formerly middle class," said race director Jane Webb, of Brainerd. "We help them with how to get help. We focus on helping families to give children stability. Interfaith Homeless Network makes sure homeless children are transported to school every day. Parents can obtain job skills in the Day Center too."
She said IHN houses families in different churches so they can be safe and receive three meals a day.
"We help mothers and fathers get plugged in to jobs," said Webb. "Some of them have never been homeless before."
Registration for the race will begin at 8 a.m. that day and the walk and run at 9 a.m.
"We will have jammin' music at the race," said Webb, adding that race participants' shirts will be Carolina blue. "It starts at Shelter No. 3 at the Riverwalk and runs toward downtown for 1.5 miles. There will be a water station and runners can grab a cup of water and run back. It is a flat, fast course. The winner of last year's race was [Red Bank High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor Col.] Hugh Enicks. He ran the race in 16 minutes."
A grand total of 115 runners and 60 walkers took on the first race to end homelessness in 2011. Webb said many people entering last year's race were entering their first-ever 5K, including her stepdaughter, Skye Webb, of Highland Park.
"I started running to have something to do with my stepmother," said the 26-year-old. "You don't want to look like you're not prepared for a race, so I started running 30 minutes a day five times per week to train."
She jogged the whole 3.2 miles of the race course, pacing herself so that she did not have to stop and walk at all. She said since that time she has solely run in races that have a compelling cause.
"I want to make a difference," said Skye Webb. "My time was about 34 minutes. I trained mostly on the treadmill. My age group is like a pack of cheetahs. I hope to achieve a better time this year."
Jane Webb said IHN volunteers have been painting 48 birdhouses to give out to runners taking on the race.