Volunteers participate in Durham’s 18th Great Human Race
Apr. 06, 2013 @ 03:33 PM

Ronald Kurui and Lawton Kariher were, respectively, the first and second runners to finish the 5K run in this year’s Great Human Race held Saturday.

Kurui, who lives in Durham and is a member of the USA Track Team, and Kariher, who runs cross country at Voyager Academy High School, train and are serious about their sport, but Saturday they were not running to win or beat a record.

“You run to care for other human beings,” not just to get prizes, Kurui said. Kariher was running to help benefit the Chapel Hill organization A Ban against Neglect, which helps young women in Ghana to learn a trade and have a better life.

Kurui and Kariher were among about 500 volunteers who walked or ran the course in the neighborhoods around Northgate Mall. Sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Durham, the Great Human Race this year brought about 78 non-profit organizations together. The organizations raise money, and get to keep 85 percent of what they raise.

The Volunteer Center tries to raise between $200,000 and $250,000 each year with the race, said Kim Shaw, executive director of the Volunteer Center of Durham. Saturday’s was the 18th race, and the race has raised a combined $2 million for nonprofit organizations during its history, Shaw said. The event also allows nonprofits a way to get energized about their organizations, she said.

Mark-Anthony Middleton, pastor of Abundant Hope Christian Church, completed his fourth or fifth run Saturday to help the church’s building fund and its community outreach projects.

“Beyond the money, it’s a great networking opportunity,” Middleton said. The event offers nonprofit groups of diverse missions a chance to get together and possibly work together, he said.

Olivia Steed, Ketty Thelemaque and Kim Britton, all members of Abundant Hope Christian Church, were cheering on Pastor Middleton. Britton also was cheering her daughter, Johnetta, who was running in the race.

Patricia Townsend of Abundant Hope had run before and completed Saturday’s race. She works with the church’s Interfaith Hospitality Network, which partners with Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church to help house homeless people who are trying to get back on their feet.

Chris Granger, who completed the race with his son, Thomas, said they were running “for the spirit of the Durham community.” Both Grangers are trained in CPR, and want to train more people to perform CPR and save more lives. Thomas Granger will teach a class soon at Durham Academy.

The race is “a great event for Durham,” Chris Granger said. As runners passed, people were on their porches and on the side of the streets “cheering on the race and enjoying the spirit of Durham,” he said.

Monica Wallace, Melita Quick and Darrietta Lee, members of the organization Women on the Groove, ran or walked in the race. Quick founded the organization, which encourages women to exercise to avoid weight-related health problems. The organization offers nutrition classes, a 90-day fitness challenge, and other diet and exercise programs, many geared toward women who “might not have the ability to afford a gym,” Quick said.

Lee said she has lost some 100 pounds participating in the group’s program, and will run a half-marathon next weekend.