By Mandy Garcia
A light cloud cover and the cool early hour made the morning of July 3 a great time for a walk or run. The Annual 5K Fitness Challenge sponsored by Brethren Benefit Trust took place at Millennium Park, six miles outside of downtown Grand Rapids, at 7 a.m. sharp.
As the sleepily–though energetic–crowd of 150 gathered at the starting line, Nevin Dulabaum, president of BBT, welcomed the group. Then Deb Romary, BBT’s board chair, offered a prayer of blessing and safety right before starting the race.
And they were off! A wide, paved path, the course wound easily through the park. It was sunny in spots, shady in others, and offered views of ponds and greenery. A few hills made the route even more interesting, the biggest one standing right before the finish line.
A large, bright orange archway welcomed athletes across the finish line, and healthy refreshments like fruit and granola bars rewarded their hard work. For the very first time, the race was timed with electronic chips strapped with Velcro around the left ankle, which allowed for quick and precise finish times.
Nathan Hosler was the overall winner for the second year in a row, coming in with a time of 17:24. Chelsea Goss finished at 21:43, claiming the first spot for female runners. Don Shankster was the first-place male finisher of the walking race with a time of 33:08. Paula Mendenhall took the first-place female walker with a time of 36:30.
Solidarity came from moving through creation with brothers and sisters on that quiet Sunday morning. It was a shared experience that uniquely exhibited Brethren values of caring for creation, caring for our bodies, and caring for each other.
Coverage of the 2011 Annual Conference is by the News Team of Jan Fischer-Bachman, Mandy Garcia, Karen Garrett, Amy Heckert, Regina Holmes, Frank Ramirez, Glenn Riegel, Frances Townsend, and editor and news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Wendy McFadden serves as executive director of Brethren Press. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org