The COVID-19 pandemic arrived with spring in 2020, erasing all the 5Ks and other races typically on the calendar as the weather warms up.
Derek and Sandy Case had hoped that would be one way for them to get to know their new community after moving from the westside, but instead they were stuck running on their treadmill. The Yakima Sports Commission's Super 5K at Sozo Sports Complex on Saturday finally offered a casual family-friendly walk/run, so the Cases brought three-year-old Lerom and one-year-old Waylon along with their dual stroller.
"It was a little bit tougher pushing a stroller," Derek said, noting he and his wife took turns pushing, and Lerom ran about a third of the way. "It feels like we're getting back to normal when we're able to participate in stuff like this again."
That appreciation was shared by staff of the Yakima Valley Sports Commission, which hadn't hosted any of its own events since the SunDome Volleyball Festival in September 2019. Director of sports development Rich Austin said 143 runners came out, many of them dressed up as superheroes or villains.
Derek wore a Batman shirt with a cape and Sandy chose Superman, matching the outfits worn by their kids. Both said they're eager to come back for the other two events in the Sozo Racing Series, although they'll need to leave the kids at home for the Bubbles and Brews 5K showcasing some of the Yakima Valley's craft beer and wine on June 12.
Toppenish high school sprinter Logan Charley didn't wear any superhero attire and wasn't sure whether he'd be able to keep up his pace for the whole race. Things turned out just fine as he finished second in his first race other than school competitions since Gov. Jay Inslee's initial stay-at-home order last March.
Around 25-30 volunteers helped set up and oversee the 5K, including those at the packet pickup on Friday night. Austin said soccer games forced them to push back the start of the race by a few minutes, but otherwise everything went smoothly.
"We want to get people out and get them active," Austin said. "A lot of people have been sitting at home for 14, 15 months."
Every participant got to enjoy a free beverage afterwards — beer was available for those 21 and older — took home a large medal as well as a blue T-shirt. The sports commission's next event will be the fourth Duel in the Desert, a lacrosse tournament at Sozo with 35 teams from around the region already registered to play.