Running down some fun: Worthington’s 30th annual ‘Fun Run’ WednesdayWORTHINGTON — This year, on Aug.1, the YMCA will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the “Fun Run” at the Olsen Park Campground. Although 30 years may seem like a long time for some, to Wayne Klumper, one of the founders of the YMCA’s “Fun Run,” it seems like the first run took place just yesterday.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — This year, on Aug.1, the YMCA will be celebrating the 13th anniversary of the “Fun Run” at the Olsen Park Campground. Although 30 years may seem like a long time for some, to Wayne Klumper, one of the founders of the YMCA’s “Fun Run,” it seems like the first run took place just yesterday.
“The idea for the ‘Fun Run’ came out of the YMCA committee,” Klumper, who was physical director at the time, said. “Running was becoming quite popular at the time (1982) and we felt like this was our chance to get into a new area and start a new program that would provide another activity for those who weren’t quite as serious of runners as those who run the 10Ks and marathons. And it was an opportunity to provide another YMCA activity that could be community and family oriented.”
One of the main reasons for creating the “Fun Run” was to give people a chance to try running as well as to prepare themselves for bigger races, such as the popular Turkey Day races, Klumper said.
“It was a takeoff on the Turkey Day race, which was a very big thing then and has become bigger since,” Klumper said. “The thinking was we would try something a little more local and a little more diverse.
“We have to give a lot of credit to the original thinking of this to Tom Navara. He was on our committee and he’s been helping every year since it started. He was a very avid runner and part of the Turkey Day races.”
The “Fun Run” gives runners three different races to participate in: the half-mile, the mile and the 5K. According to Klumper, the 5K race at the “Fun Run” was originally meant to give runners a chance to test their abilities and gauge where they were at physically for the Turkey Day race which was usually a few weeks after the “Fun Run.”
“I’ve had a lot of people over the years tell me the words “fun” and “run” should never be used together since it is usually a hot day at the end of July and first part of August, which makes it unpleasant for running.
“But it is a fun run. It is supposed to be fun for the whole family. The parents can run the half-mile with their kids. It was designed to be a family thing, for little kids to run.”
Another part of the event’s success, Klumper said, has been the support of local sponsors. Companies have all helped to make sure the “Fun Run” continues to do well every year and have helped to make the event reasonably priced for the runs and to provide the “Fun Run” shirts.
The number of runners who participate every year varies, depending on the weather and on the day of the race. Anywhere from 70 to 150 people, on average, come to give the “Fun Run” a chance and to have fun with family and friends. The most people the YMCA has ever seen at the event was 180.
“The largest number of runners run the half-mile race; the little kids like to try the half-mile the most,” Klumper said. “The 5K is also popular and gets a lot of runners too. The mile is mostly for people who just want to run their flat-out fastest.
“One-hundred runners a year is ideal. But a lot of people decide if they are going to run or not depending on the weather that day.”
One of the most important aspects of the “Fun Run,” according to Klumper, is the fact that the race gives people a chance to explore their running abilities without the pressure of racing against others.
“This event was not built as a race, but as a fun run, an opportunity to see how you do with yourself,” Klumper said. “It was meant to be a chance for runners to compete against themselves and test their abilities.
“It is also good to involve families.”
Klumper has been part of every “Fun Run” since it started, but he never got the chance to run in the race until two years ago, after he retired. Now he is back as a volunteer and has been named the honorary starter for this year’s event.
Along with starting the races, Klumper will be helping to set up the course, which hasn’t changed much since the very first race 30 years ago.
“The course is exactly the same as it was back in 1982,” Klumper said. “Other than just a slight adjustment here and there, because they’ve changed the road a little bit, it hasn’t changed.”
Registration for the “Fun Run” begins at 5:30 p.m. the day of the race, with the half-mile run starting at 6 p.m., the one-mile run starting at 6:15 p.m. and the 5K starting at 6:30 p.m.
“I think the reason that it lasted 30 years is that we had a good idea 30 years ago,” Klumper said. “It is a fun program and I wish more people would give it a try. It is a fun activity because it can include the entire family and the YMCA is really about families.
“It is an opportunity to run against yourself and test your abilities. But of course we don’t encourage people to do more than they can.”
For more information on the “Fun Run” contact YMCA Program Director C.J. Nelson at (507) 376-6197 or email him at email@example.com.
Daily Globe Reporter Jordan Willi
may be reached at 376-7335.