Davis residents of all ages and athletic abilities turned out yesterday for the Davis chapter of Nourish International’s first-ever 5K road race.
For a registration fee of $20 each, participants ran from Davis Community Park through surrounding neighborhoods and back. All proceeds will benefit Nourish’s summer project, which is to work with impoverished communities in the Dominican Republic.
“We are partnering with the Yale chapter of Nourish and MUDE, Mujeres en Desarrollo Dominicana, to fund nutrition education programs,” said Kaitlin Gregg, president and co-founder of Nourish at UC Davis. “A hundred percent of the money we raise goes toward the project. We send student volunteers, who pay their own way to the Dominican Republic.”
Nourish International was founded in 2003 with the mission of eliminating global poverty. Today, over 20 chapters can be found at college campuses across the country. Gregg and Elizabeth Germain founded Nourish at Davis in 2008 to fill a niche they thought was lacking at UC Davis.
“I’m an international relations major, and I’m interested in developing countries,” said Gregg, a senior. “I felt like there was a lack of avenues for students to become involved in these types of issues.”
Nourish regularly holds fundraisers to support projects and raise awareness about global poverty. Last year, five UCD students went to Ecuador to support nutrition education and urban agriculture as well as build organic greenhouses. Nourish also donated $5,000 to the Ecuador non-profit organization, Triple Salto.
About 75 runners gathered at 9 a.m. at the Community Park to register for the race and receive a “Strides for Change” t-shirt. Many of the participants had little running experience.
“We actually don’t run ever, so this will be something new for us,” said Kelsey Easterly, junior nature and culture major, of her and fellow participant Laura Hockett.
Hockett said that she was running to help Nourish reach its project’s goals.
“I have friends in Nourish, so I’m running to support them,” said Hockett, junior linguistics major. “Besides, it’s a really good cause.”
Almas Sharif said that he was excited to try his hand at racing.
“I’m running my first 5K ever,” said Sharif, sophomore microbiology major. “Also, I’m flattered to run for such an honorable cause.”
Many runners decided to participate after learning about the event from friends.
“Honestly, I’m here because Almas told me about it,” said Jas Sidhu, sophomore microbiology major. “I thought it would be nice. I haven’t run in a while, though I used to run in high school.”
At 9 a.m., Gregg gathered the runners at the starting line beside the picnic tables. An air horn blast signaled the start of the race, and participants took off along a marked path. Nourish members helped direct runners along the route, which wound around the Davis Greenbelt and through the streets of Davis.
Within 20 minutes the first finishers began to arrive. Prizes for the winners, as well as bagels, bananas and water for all runners, awaited the runners back at the picnic tables.
Jennifer Tsou, a Davis resident, said that the race was challenging but worth it to help Nourish’s cause.
“I’m not a runner and this was my first race, so it was pretty tough,” she said. “It was mostly flat, on a paved track and marked with chalk. We went through quiet residential streets and through the park. I’m here because it’s a great cause, and my friend’s little sister is in Nourish.”
Children had the opportunity to participate in the Kids’ Fun Run at 10:15 a.m. Pint-sized runners could choose between an 800-meter or one mile run through the community park. All participants were awarded a medal.
Nourish holds meetings throughout the year at 6 p.m. in Olson. Hunger Lunch, a recurring Nourish event, is held on select Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Silo back patio. For $4, participants can enjoy all-you-can-eat rice, beans and cornbread. For more information about Nourish at Davis and other upcoming events, visit http://network.nourishinternational.org/group/davis/ or join their Facebook group.
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.