As Benicia schools faced big funding cuts, a small group of education advocates sat at a table one night, got an idea and decided to run with it. The result was the Benicia Run for Education now in its eighth year and generating about $45,000 annually. This year’s event takes place Sunday, April 10 with participants running up First Street, along West K Street and into the Benicia State Recreation Area. It includes 5K and 10K foot races and a Kids Fun Run along the Benicia Marina. While raising money is certainly an object, the ultimate goal is for people to come together in strong community spirit and support schools, Race Director Lisa Koenen said.
Runners of all skill levels and ages are welcome to join the run that starts 8am. “Individuals, families and groups can sign up through the day of the event. The last day to get discounted preregistration prices is April 7 with sign-up costs increasing slightly after that,” said Koenen. Ninety percent of the funds generated from the event go to Benicia schools, with the remaining used to cover administrative costs. The funds come from entrance fees and race sponsors.
Staged by the Benicia Education Foundation, the run has grown significantly from its first year of 150 participants to nearly 1,200 runners annually. Currently, the foundation is raising money for technology upgrades and career and college planning at all grade levels. In prior years, funds have gone to keep libraries open and for the Benicia Middle School Active Learning space, among other projects and services.
“The Run for Education means something different for each person,” said Koenen. A special component this year is the Team Teri group, running in honor of the late Teri Epperson, who ran the race in 2015 after enduring multiple chemotherapy treatments. Other groups include the Henderson Hounds and Benicia Middle School teachers, who dress up in costume and have fun during the event.
“The nice thing about this run is that it’s a very community-driven run,” Koenen said. “The race route is also scenic and interesting.” Runners pass historical points, beautiful Victorian homes and views of the Carquinez Straits and the Benicia State Recreation Area. Participants are encouraged to stick around town afterwards to enjoy Benicia’s parks, restaurants, shopping, art studios, museums and its natural beauty. Rather than a cash award, the race winner gets Benicia Downtown Dollars to spend like cash at participating local businesses.
The 5K and 10K are USATF (USA Track & Field) certified so that runners can qualify for marathons. People with no running skills can walk in the 5K, and families are encouraged to bring children to the Kids Fun Run. Only runners (not walkers) can participate in the 10K. The majority of runners are local, but some come from out of town, too, Koenen said.
In the 5K, runners begin at the foot of First Street and proceed north to West K Street, winding through a few streets on the west side. They end up at Ninth Street Park before returning to First Street. In the 10K, runners continue west past Ninth Street and into the state park. Parts of First Street, West K Street and other streets are closed during the run. Property owners are given plenty of notice beforehand, Koenen said. For more details on the race route and to sign up for the run, go to beniciarunforeducation.org.