The stopwatch has not yet been started, but already local schools are hurrying to earn a prize in the 23rd Annual Great Race of Middletown.
Monday is the deadline for Middletown schools to hand in their applications for the race. The school that can round up the most participants wins a banner.
Last year 3,500 students and faculty competed, and River Plaza Elementary came away triumphant with the "Most School Spirit" red, white, and blue blue banner which now is hanging in the auditorium next to the stage, displaying River Plaza's name, along with the other winners over the past decade.
“It’s very competitive with the elementary schools around here,” said Kathleen Marinich, parent and co-chair for the race, outside River Plaza last Tuesday where she volunteered to promote the Race on Spirit Day.
She explained that when a school wins, they steal the banner from the previous winner. "We have an incentive: We want to win this pizza party, we want to win the banner, and because we get a lot of money back for the school."
The banner competition is sponsored by the non-profit Middletown Township Education Foundation. Three banners are awarded on the day of the race. One is given to the school with the most applicants; one for the highest percentage of enrollment; one for the most difference in the amount of participants from the previous year.
"It’s all about school spirit and community involvement," said Great Race organizer Joan Minnuies, who is also president of the board of education. "Everyone is there, having fun and getting along.”
The entry fee is $15 to run the race, and $20 after Oct. 8. After the race's expenses are covered, a percentage of the money raised is given to the school parent-teacher associations. Last year, the MTEF returned $10.50 per applicant in each school.
Minnuies said, “It’s a great way for the PTAs to make money for the schools. Lots of them are spending money on technology," she said. "One year, one put money towards a playground. They can put it towards anything they feel that will benefit the kids and their school.”
River Plaza Elementary’s Parent Faculty Association program received over $3,000. They used the funds to organize special events like Dr. Seuss day, science and cultural enrichment, Halloween night and a movie night, said Marinich.
The Great Race of Middletown, sponsored by the Middletown Township Education Foundation
WHERE: The race will start and end at Middletown North High School, 63 Tindall Road, Middletown Township. The route is through relatively flat residential areas, and runners will be professionally timed.
WHEN: October 20
- 10:30 a.m.- Noon: Registration and pick up entry packets
- Noon: 5K Run
- 1 p.m. First Awards Ceremony
- 2 p.m. Competitive 2K (Ages 11 - 14)
- 2:30 p.m. Competitive 2K (Ages 8 - 10)
- 3:00 p.m. Any Way 2K Health Walk/Run for all ages
- 3:30 p.m. Final Awards Ceremony
Trophies will go to first male and female winners. Cash awards to top 3 male and female finishers overall, and to top male and female masters. Trophy to school with top five coed finishers in competitive 2K ages (8-10) and (11-14).
5K: 23rd Anniversary pint glasses go to top 100 male and 100 female finishers.
Awards to top 3 male and female Middletown BOE employees.
Cash awards to top male and female finishers in various age categories. 1st Prize is $100; second prize is $50; and third prize is $25. First Masters is $25.
Sponsors: Middletown Teachers Association, Stress Factory, Vinny Brand, Dr. Cuozzo, Momentum Therapeutic, Leonora Caminiti, W. H. Potter and Son, Dairy Queen, On the Hook, Off the Deck, Whole Foods and Middletown Ice World.
Relatives and friends of students, as well as the general public are invited to join the race.
COST: $15 entry fee; $20 Late Entry fee after October 8.
T-shirt only/donation before October 5. No refunds.
APPLICATION: You can download the application here.