After a fallow year owing to COVID-19 restrictions, we at the Rotary Club of Whitby & District decided to re-launch our Fun Run called Octoberfest aimed mostly at primary schoolchildren. Thanks to the help of Shaun Hopper, a P.E. teacher at the local secondary school, who set up the course around the school playing fields and surrounding area, the event was held on Sunday, October 3rd in the afternoon. It attracted just over 130 runners for the 5 races (separate boys and girls races for (a) Years 5 & 6, (b) Years 3,4 & below and (c) an Open Race). Each child who took part received a ribboned medal. The event was a big success with a large crowd of parents and friends turning out to cheer them home and everyone seeming to enjoy it greatly. The aim of the event is summed up in the title “Fun Run” as we try to stimulate an interest in running with all its inherent benefits in terms of exercise and well-being.
My fellow Rotarians from our club were very helpful along with a small group of friends who ensured that we were able to marshall the course, supervise an orderly finish and distribution of medals and allow everyone to enjoy the event in safety. A small entry fee allowed us to purchase enough medals to go round and in fact resulted in the event ending in a slight financial profit. In addition to the medal, the first 2 finishers in each race also received a small trophy. We had a Rotarian photographer on hand to take pictures, a few of which were subsequently used in the local paper and on social media. (As parents registered their child to run, they signed a disclaimer allowing photographs)
This year for the first time we encouraged the youngsters to get sponsors to back them in their run, all in support of the local branch of the charity, Mind. We were not sure how well supported this would be but as usual our local youngsters stepped up to the mark and responded magnificently by raising just short of £1900 for this very worthwhile charity. We followed up the races by presenting a shield to the school which had provided the most runners for each of the 4 main races and also by presenting the girl who raised most money with a special individual award at her school. That way the children were encouraged to take part in support of their school and also in support of a charity.
The numbers this year have been better than ever and we have had extremely positive feedback about the event. The effect of the previous year’s COVID-19 lockdown and its associated restrictions on activity contributed no doubt to the increased numbers taking part in this year’s event. In addition, it was also very effective in the build-up to the races for the organiser to visit 5 local primary schools and deliver an assembly all about Octoberfest. This undoubtedly encouraged the children to take part. Entry forms and sponsor forms were distributed around local schools and in fact 16 of them sent runners so they also did their bit to support Octoberfest. We are already looking forward to next year’s races!