Discover Whitewater Series runs despite pandemic

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Runners warm up at the starting line of the Discover Whitewater series.

Hannah Michalowski, Sports Editor

For seven years now, the Greater Whitewater Committee (GWC) has organized the Discover Whitewater Series, which took place Sunday, Sept. 20. The GWC is a group made up of businesses that strive to make Whitewater a place visitors make a must-go destination, and a place residents never want to leave. In the middle of a pandemic, GWC carefully planned out safety precautions that were able to make the run possible. 

“The event is so much about the charity partners in town. They haven’t been able to raise revenues this year so this helps non-profits in town. It’s a purely athletic event, but it also markets the city outside our borders. People are able to run through and see what is so good about Whitewater,” Coordinator Jeff Knight said. 

With all proceeds of the Whitewater Run Series going to five local organizations, the community came together for more than just a run. Proceeds from the event help organizations like the Bethel House, Whitewater LEADS, and the Whitewater Unified School District. In the past seven years, The Discover Whitewater Series has been able to donate $5,000 to each partner, totalling $25,000 to the community and over $186,5000 in all the years of the event. The J-Hawk aquatic club is another organization benefiting from the donations.

“As the J-Hawk representative and Head Coach I can tell you that as an organization, we are incredibly grateful that this is put on and the funds help our programming, without question,” Cheri Zimdars, volunteer coordinator said. “Each group funded by this event is a community minded program so in essence they are giving so much back to the community.”

Normally the Discover Whitewater Series holds about 700 runners from multiple states, but with COVID-19 sweeping the country, they limited the participants to 150 for the half-marathon and 150 for the 5k. All volunteers, participants, and fans were required to wear masks at all times. Once the race began, runners had the option to remove their masks. A list of guidelines and rules were posted long ahead of time on the event page so everyone could come prepared and feel safe. Participant Mike Taber, ran his first half marathon in a few years. 

“I haven’t run in this event before, but it’s been on my list. Anytime there’s a race that’s donating to good causes, I’m always up for that. I felt the organization was set up well to make everyone feel safe so I did not feel the need to worry about COVID-19,” Mike Taber said. 

While the Whitewater Run Series may have looked a bit smaller this year, the energy and motivation from coordinators, runners, and fans was all the same. Support systems filled the starting line and cheered on as their friends and family trekked out on their run. Two runners at a time began the race in 20 seconds intervals to accommodate social distancing. 

“The motivation hasn’t changed. It’s always been about being able to work with community partners and donate money at the end of this event so that’s really been the driving force through all of this,” Jen Kaina,  registration leader said.

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