This year, the Utah Pride Festival will bring back an event that festival-goers haven’t seen in the last three years: a 5K walk/run.
The Pride Day 5K will be held June 5, the second day of the three-day festival. It’s a tradition that the Utah Pride Festival has missed, said Michael Westley, Media and Special Events Coordinator for the Utah Pride Center, which operates the festival annually. The 5K run, he said, was discontinued in 2006 as the festival grew.
“It had to be dropped because we didn’t have the manpower to do it,” he said.
This year, the run will be administered by an outside group, Wasatch Area Race Productions, the company behind this August’s Battle at Midway Race Festival in Midway, Utah. According to WARP co-owner Charity Vernon, who runs the company with her husband and mutual friend Rob Leishman, WARP is “a trio of friends who enjoys putting on endurance events here in the community.” Her company approached the Pride Center because they thought a race “seemed like a logical aspect which was kind of missing from the event.”
“We thought it’d be a fun way to kick the weekend off and get things going for the festival, and to help raise some money for a good cause,” she said.
The good cause is the Center’s Student Scholarship program, which a portion of the race’s proceeds will benefit. To support the program, participants must register for the 5K’s “Super Pride Strider” category. Tickets for this are $65 each and include a race t-shirt, festival tickets and a package including a number of festival prizes which will be announced soon. The regular entrance fee, which does not benefit the scholarship, is $25. Super Strider packages will not be available for purchase on the morning of the race, but regular day of registration will be available for $30 per individual.
“They’re paying a little extra but they’re getting the entrance tickets and supporting [the scholarship] as well,” said Vernon of the Super Strider packages.
Pride Day 5K is a 3.12 mile race which will begin at 8:30 a.m. on June 5. The route will travel north on Capitol Blvd. through City Creek Canyon to 11th Ave. Athletes will then turn and head back down the avenue to Bonneville Blvd., onto Canyon Road and into Memory Grove, where the race will end. Although the race is a fun run, meaning that participants are invited to run or walk at their own pace, prizes, such as festival tickets and VIP passes to the festival Beer Garden, will be given to the top three runners in male, female and transgender categories. The event will be emceed by Sister Dottie S. Dixon, star of the KRCL radio program bearing her name and her own play, The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon.
“It should be a great time,” said Vernon. “We’re expecting probably around 300 or so athletes. The first years [for a race] are always kind of a little smaller and they take off after that.”
She encouraged participants of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities, races and ages to participate.
“One of our goals is to get the community a little more involved and feeling like it’s a festival for everyone,” she said.
“[Center Director] Valerie Larabee and the rest of us [Center staff] are very much keen on having a race because this gives us a way to talk about health and wellness and this allows us [to reach] a group of individuals” who are interested in fitness and wish the festival had an event centered around physical health, he said.
He added that the race was a good example of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community working with straight allies for the benefit of everyone.
Registration for the race has just opened and spots can be purchased on the WARP Web site at wasatchracing.com/prideday5k-raceinfo.html.