With the blast of the starting guns on May 13, an estimated 1,500 Lake Run participants will set out on their 5K, 10K and Kids Dash races.
But for the Lake Oswego Women's Club members who have dedicated hours to making the event happen, the shots will actually mark the end of a marathon of planning, funding and organizing.
Even after being part of the Lake Run committee for more than a decade, Lisa Rainer says she's still impressed by the way the event comes together year after year.
"We almost started crying when the gun went off last year," Rainer says. "It was so amazing."
The 41st annual Lake Run, organized by the Lake Oswego Women's Club, is a benefit for Clackamas Women's Services, Child Advocates, Inc. — a local division of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) — and other local charities. The 5K and 10K events will begin on State Street at Sundeleaf Plaza, while the Kids Dash will be held at Evergreen Road and Second Street, near where the other runners and walkers will finish at Millennium Plaza Park.
One new element that debuted at last year's Lake Run is the School Challenge, which invites students in any grade to enter their school's name when they register for the 5K or 10K. The school with the most participants will win an ice cream party before the end of the school year. Lake Oswego Junior High won last year's challenge.
The planning for this year's event began about 11 months ago, when committee members submitted their event permit application to the City of Lake Oswego. In the fall, the women began meeting monthly to organize the many event details.
They managed administrative elements such as safety permits, insurance details and City requirements. They got the race registration website up and running early to accept eager participants, and advertised to promote the event and encourage more people to participate, says Lake Run Chair Fran Herbert.
"We have to make sure we have enough runners to cover our costs," she says, "and then we have to make sure we have enough sponsors to cover our charities."
They hired a flagging company to direct traffic, put out a call for course monitor volunteers and sought out sponsors for the event. And throughout the entire planning process and on the day of the event, the group partners with the City of Lake Oswego and the Lake Oswego Police Department to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
In the days leading up to the event, the women will warn neighbors of potential traffic challenges and alternative routes to navigate around the runners and walkers who will flood their streets. And during the fast-paced event, the group will manage all the day-of logistics, says Lake Run Co-Chair Virginia Rubin.
"The run starts and ends within about an hour," Rubin says. "You don't get a do-over."
'The kickoff of spring'
Tamara Vanderpool, a volunteer coordinator, says the real payoff for the months of preparation comes when runners and walkers finish their races and gather at Millennium Plaza Park for the Lake Run's Family Fun Festival.
"It feels like a small town," she says. "Everybody is just happy — they're wearing their new T-shirts and they've got their slushies."
Rainer, who manages sponsorships for the event, says she enjoys the festival's atmosphere as well.
"It does really feel like the kickoff of spring in Lake Oswego," she says, since the run is quickly followed by Mother's Day, the appearance of Village Flower Baskets and the opening of the Lake Oswego Farmers Market.
And to top it off, she says, "We get to give all this money to people who could really use it."
The club has donated more than $2 million to local charities and scholarships since its inception in 1974.
In addition to organizing the Lake Run, the women's club members enjoy socializing, volunteering and hosting other fundraising events together throughout the year. They're currently looking for more women to join their vibrant community — those who are interested can learn more at lowomensclub.org.
While some of the organizers have been involved with the event for years, volunteer coordinator Stacey Durbin says this year's Lake Run will be her first. She joined the Lake Oswego Women's Club this year after learning that the Lake Run supports CASA, an organization that she cares about.
"Being part of this club is a privilege and an honor," she says. She says she didn't know any of the other women in the club when she joined, but she's quickly made friends and gotten involved.
"I strongly believe in trying to get out of your comfort zone, because you get to know great people," she says.
IF YOU GO
What: The 41st annual Lake Run, which includes a 10K run, a 5K run/walk and a Kids Dash.
When: Saturday, May 13. Races and Family Fun Festival will run from 8 a.m.-noon.
Where: Millennium Plaza Park, 200 First St. in Lake Oswego
Info: To register or learn more, visit www.lowomensclub.org/LakeRun.