Many 5K run/walk events take place on the WIU campus during the school year, but an extra special 5K run/walk is this Saturday. Which one you might ask…it is the Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk. On Saturday, October 18th, check-in/late registration goes from 7-8:15 a.m., the Opening Ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m. and the race starts at 9:00 a.m If you haven’t done so yet, registration is $35.
The Associate Director of Campus Recreation, Judy Yeast stated that WIU’s designation as a “Military Friendly School” makes this specific 5K so important to our University. Most importantly the event honors two Western alumni who were killed while serving our country, Capt. Derek Dobogai and Lt. Col. Robert Baldwin. Capt. Dobogai graduated Magna Cum Laude and Lt. Baldwin was a member of the Student Alumni Leadership Council.
“Last year, the Second Annual (Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk) had 457 runners/walkers, making the Fallen Soldiers 5K Run/Walk the largest road race held in McDonough County. As of today (October 13th), we have 440 runners/walkers pre-registered for this Saturday,” said Yeast.
I couldn’t attend the 5K last past year because I had to work, but I did pass by the race route. Driving by the exquisite set up on my way to work and seeing the countless number of flags filled me with great emotion and pride for our country. Yeast explained that this patriotic event also created a vivid memory that she will never forget.
“Seeing the 174 flags from the Bushnell Patriot Corp blow in the wind…it was just beautiful. This year, we are placing 197 flags on University property around the route. We have Delta Upsilon and Lambda Theta Phi put up the flags on Friday, October 17th starting at 2:30 p.m. After the race on Saturday at 10:15 a.m. the cadets from our ROTC program will take them down. And, it is always humbling to see someone walk or run their first road race and seeing them believe in themselves,” said Yeast.
Competing in a race like a 5K gives you a rewarding experience. I ran track in high school and I’ve participated in a few 5Ks. I always feel accomplished when I hit that finish line. Practice and finishing the race is all up to you; unlike many sports, running really isn’t a team effort. You don’t rely on others to win; you can only rely on yourself. That makes the end result that much more gratifying because when you succeed, you know it was due to your own hard work and dedication. Yeast explained why this race, in particular, is so meaningful to the alumni of our University.
“We are running this for two alumni who brought courage and honor to our University through their service to our country. We start the race at Western Hall because Derek was a Leatherneck member of the Intercollegiate Cross Country team. We end the race at Hanson Field because Derek was a member of the 2001 and 2002 Track and Field team. Delta Upsilon helps put up the flags and work the race route because Rob was a member of this fraternity. The race route will pass the Veteran’s Resource Center. The race starter will be Dan Wellman, 1992 alumnus, honored veteran and Delta Upsilon brother and classmate of Lt. Col. Baldwin,” said Yeast.
For more information on the 5K run/walk, visit http://www.wiu.edu/vpas/wellness/event.php?id=563.