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Gearing Up For the ABC7 Gibbons 5K: An Interview with Arleen Boudart

http://gibbons5k.com/
I've been eying the long-running ABC7 Gibbons 5K for the last several years but still haven't run it. But this year - and even more specifically, this month - I'm finally going to go out on a Thursday afternoon (June 18th!) and run it. And since it's a race I've been interested in for a while I thought I'd get a little background information before I cross the starting line two weeks from now.

Luckily, Arleen Boudart, Special Events Director for the Leukemia Research Foundation (the group who organizes the race fulfilling their mission of being "dedicated to conquering all blood cancers by funding research into their causes and cures, and enriching the quality of life of those touched by these diseases") was able to give me some of her time to break it down a bit.

Most importantly, the race was started 21 years ago in memory of Jim Gibbons from ABC7 after his death from leukemia in 1994. Boudart explained that an evening slot for the race was chosen for good reason. "The original - and every race start since - have been broadcast live on ABC 7 news at 6:25pm."

But more than the media coverage it's the reason for the race that really gets Boudart excited. "We are not just a 5K that donates what proceeds they get to a charity - we are a charity that has a 5K and tries to keep as many dollars as we can for the cause," she says. "We won’t throw paint on you, run you thru the mud, or serenade you mile by mile - but we will do our best to raise as much money as we can for our mission and have fun doing it!!"

Based on that alone it's clear why the hashtags the race is using for promotion are important to them. The first is #itsmorethanjustarace. "Because we are an opportunity for those whose lives have been touched by blood cancer to join together," says Boudart. "Our second hashtag is #togetheritispossible, because it REALLY is!"

As part of this discussion, Boudart asked me to take a look at their "Heroes of Hope" page which describes why people are running (using the hashtag #WhyIamRunning). "This is the reason I do what I do," she says. "To touch the lives of those who are running and walking to honor a loved one, to celebrate being a survivor and to mourn those lost to blood cancer." 

The race has moved around a bit over the years but this year they're looking at some improvements, moving the race back to Grant Park and, even more importantly to Boudart, "We're trying to more significantly honor those who are patients, survivors or touched by blood cancer."

I run a lot of races and it's always good to be reminded that more often than not there is a reason for getting out and crossing that starting line that is much bigger than fitness and PRs and a classic runner's high. The ABC7 Gibbons 5K definitely makes those reasons clear. I hope to see you out there!

(FYI: The event includes a chip timed 5K, a 5K fun run and a 3K walk).

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