Micro Race Benefits Rockford’s Vocational Programs

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Runners lace up their shoes and take to the streets in downtown Rockford. But this wasn’t an ordinary race.

“Basically, the Downtown Dawdler Dash is a spoof, or kind of a jest, on a regular 5k run,” explains event organizer and YouthBuild Program Director Katrina Carlson. “So we’re doing .5k.”

Carlson says she wanted to bring a national craze, that is growing in popularity, to the Forest City.

“Actually, this is kind of becoming a little bit of a trend in the country,” Carlson said. “We noticed that we hadn’t done one in Rockford before. Sometimes they’re called micro-marathons or lazy man runs.”

The Downtown Dawdler Dash .5k gave racers all of the perks of a traditional road race, while the shorter distance meant anyone could take part.

“It’s kind of a fun event to get everybody together and have a good time but you don’t have to be an athlete,” Carlson said.

All of the money from the dash is going to Rockford’s YouthBuild program. YouthBuild helps disadvantaged students earn their high school diplomas and learn construction and carpentry skills. This past September, nearly two dozen students between the ages of 16 to 23 graduated from the program.

“We are serving kind of an underpriviledged community and getting them the skills that they need and then out into the workforce,” Carlson said.

Many of the racers embraced the Dawdler Dash by walking the course. Nine-year old Sam Ogeto is one of the few people who decided to run instead of walking.

“I’m good at sprinting, in a way, and I think I will be good at this race because it’s short,” Ogeto said.

Racer Jayne Merryman says she has completed many longer races, but viewed the Dawdler Dash as a fun way to start her next training period.

“This is our way to get started on our next challenge,” Merryman said. “We’re trying to Boston qualify, so this is preparing us for that next run.”

Carlson says, despite cold temperatures, she was happy with the turnout.

“I don’t think the cold is scaring too many people away,” she said. “Because it’s not that far.”

Following the .5k, racers enjoyed live music, pizza, and drinks at Prarie Street Brewhouse. Organizers hope the Dawdler Dash becomes an annual event.

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