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Festival Berry Run a sweet success
SMOKEY POINT In its second year at the Smokey Point Plant Farm, the annual Strawberry Festival Berry Run enjoyed a big boost in turnout.
Grace Academy track coach and race organizer Fred Howard estimated about 150 walkers and runners of all ages came out for the June 14 race, a roughly 50 percent improvement over last year's showing.
Although the turnout made it a tougher battle for first place, there seemed to be a great deal of encouragement for runners as they crossed the finish line whether that took 16 or 36 minutes.
The Jumaoas family tries to run about a race a month on average, estimated mom Norey, who has been running for about five years.
"Our last one was in Kansas," she explained. "My husband is in the Navy and he signed us up for one as a family."
At Smokey Point, Norey ran with her 7-year-old daughter Natalie, while 13-year-old Brandon kept his own pace. The kids have been running since they could walk, Norey said, adding that running is a natural part of Brandon's athletic development as a soccer, basketball and baseball player at Cedarcrest Middle School.
"I think it's a better lifestyle, to stay healthy," Norey added. "It's a free sport."
Another small family of runners attended the Berry Run the Arlington Runners Club. The usual Saturday crew of runners came to the Berry Run this weekend, instead of the weekly routine at the Stillaguamish Athletic Club, said participant Pat Phares.
While Phares has run the Berry Run several times in the past, this was his first year competing at the plant farm. And while club members are used to 5k and 10k races, running the shorter 5k isn't necessarily easier, Phares explained.
"You go faster in a shorter race," he said.
Howard and Grace Academy athletes got involved in the Berry Run several years prior to take advantage of the race as a fundraiser for the Eagles athletic program, the coach said as he introduced his athletes during the award ceremony.
"We've been able to buy track equipment that we wouldn't have been able to buy," he said. "It's been pretty sparse, but we do what we can with what we have."