LAKEWOOD — The Strawberry Festival’s annual Berry Run 5K kicked off the festivities on Saturday, June 15, as more than 170 runners and walkers convened at the Plant Farm at Smokey Point for a 9 a.m. start.
“It was great. We had a great group of volunteers and a lot of help from the Marysville Police Department, and support from the Plant Farm,” said Jeff Sowards, event organizer and Lakewood High School cross country coach. “Everyone had a really good time, and the new course, with the overpass, didn’t seem to slow anyone down.”
The Berry Run is a 5K and 1 mile run/walk hosted by the Lakewood High School cross country team, and funds raised at the event help send their top runners on a yearly trip to Stanford, where they can learn a lot from collegiate level runners.
The race is also one of the first events at the Strawberry Festival, which held more activities throughout the day in Marysville, including a carnival, market and grand parade.
“Last year, we only had around 115 participants, which was really disappointing,” said Sowards. “We are finding ways to continue to make it a bigger event. Of course, our dream is to have it right before the parade, on the parade route, so people can cheer on the runners. We will continue to work on that and we are extremely thankful to the Plant Farm for being so accommodating.”
Ariel Jensen, the 2012 Strawberry Festival President’s Marshal, and her family participated in the Berry Run for their fourth year.
“They had a lot more people come out this year, so it was great for the community,” said Jensen. “It was great to run it again.”
Jensen’s mother, Jodi Jensen, was happy to be running in support of local athletics, on what she said was “the perfect day for a run.”
“It’s great that it’s supporting the cross country team and you can’t beat the weather. It’s perfect,” Jodi Jensen said.
Runners of all ages and abilities trekked through the course, and the top finishers in each age group received awards. Others were drawn at random by their bib numbers to receive raffle prizes, all donated items, which included gym memberships, tanning, bouncy house rentals and more.
The results of the run are posted on the Marysville Strawberry Festival’s website at http://maryfest.org.