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Homecoming Run a Health Benefit for Those not in the Race
As the runners line up at the starting line for the fifth annual Race with the Stars event Nov. 1 at Oklahoma City University, they’ll be running, literally, for the lives of others. In fact, the race is arguably a bigger health benefit for those who aren’t even getting the cardiovascular workout. As it has since its inception in 2004, Race with the Stars will raise money for one of the most important career fields in the country in a field that is in short supply – nursing. “What better way to raise money for graduate nursing scholarships than hosting a morning run event?” said Dr. Marvel Williamson, dean of the OCU Kramer School of Nursing. “Supporting students is important to the nursing school, and producing well-educated nurses is important to the public.” Participants choose from two versions – a sanctioned 5K race or a more leisure one-mile self-paced run/walk. The sanctioned race has awards for first place through third in each of several 5-year-range age categories. But beyond the event itself, the long-term winners are those who will get the chance to learn at OCU’s nursing school. The event happens each year largely thanks to the efforts of two organizers – Marianne Vanetta, the race founder, and Andrea Carpenter, race director. Vanetta handles the more visible marketing aspects of the event like promotions and finding volunteers, while Carpenter works out the logistics like city permits and traffic control. “There’s a huge shortage of nurses nationwide,” Vanetta said. “As the population is aging, the need is increasing, but the number of nurses is decreasing.” The statistics prompted Vanetta to organize the race originally, and she is proud to say that it has quickly become an OCU homecoming tradition. “It’s nice to see all the students show up early in the morning,” she added, noting that the race time is brisk and early, at least for a fall Saturday morning, at 8 a.m. “You can tell who they are – the sleepy-eyed young runners gathering at the starting line. But their energy levels begin to rise as the start time approaches.” Vanetta, who majored in mathematics during her student days at OCU, has also noticed an increased participation base from off the campus. “Word is spreading through the running community. They like the cooler weather and the flat course. This race has the perfect conditions for competition.” Race with the Stars begins and ends next to the OCU Freede Wellness and Activity Center, 1700 N.W. 27th St., rain or shine. The USA Track and Field sanctioned 5K race begins at 8 a.m. Nov. 1. The one-mile fun run/walk begins at 8:45 a.m. Race day registration is from 7-7:30 a.m. Early registration is $15 if turned in before Oct. 27, or $20 from Oct. 28 to the day of the race. Entry includes a long-sleeved T-shirt and a goody bag while supplies last. For information about the race call (405) 208-STAR (208-7827), e-mail or visit the Web site at