Durham County

Runners, walkers raise money for nonprofits as part of the Great Human Race

Mascots and runners alike start the Great Human Race 5K run and community walk for charity outside Durham Bulls Athletic Park Saturday.
Mascots and runners alike start the Great Human Race 5K run and community walk for charity outside Durham Bulls Athletic Park Saturday. The Herald-Sun

Downtown Durham came alive Saturday with runners and walkers who took part in the Great Human Race, an annual fundraising event that supports area nonprofits.

Although dark clouds hovered over Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the staging area for the 5K run and community walk, the 260 runners, walkers and event organizers never wavered in their commitment to make the 22nd edition of the race a success.

“The weather has held out and everybody has smiles on their faces, so I think we’re going to be good,” Adrienne Clark, director of operations and special programs for the Triangle Nonprofit and Volunteer Leadership Center, said shortly before the race began at 8:30 a.m.

And no one was better in the 5K, about 3.1 miles, than the shirtless Ian Ovenden, 17, a Voyager Academy senior, who was the first to complete the picturesque course that wound through the scenic Forest Hills neighborhood.

“Forest Hills lives up to its name,” said Ovenden, who runs track and cross country for Voyager nd is headed to UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall to study chemistry.

Since it began in 1996, the Great Human Race has raised nearly $3 million to support hundreds of nonprofits, schools and faith-based groups.

It also allows businesses and individuals to support the nonprofits of their choice.

Clark said this year’s race had about 260 entries, about the same as last year.

“The numbers have gone down a little because there are now so many races, but we’re still hopeful about it and it’s all for a good cause and everybody is very passionate about it,” Clark said.

Floydricka Tanoh with Golden State Foods ran as part of a team from The GSF Foundation that teams with The Ronald McDonald House to raise money and provide volunteers for the program that aids families with sick children.

“This is our second year,” Tanoh said. “I like to see the community come together for a good cause.”

Tanoh said the race also gives her and her co-workers a chance to work on their fitness for better health and wellness.

Emily Mistzal of Carborro was a first time runner, and she too was running with co-workers, hers from Chapel Hill-based Interra International.

“The course is beautiful,” Mistzal said. “It goes through an old historic Neighborhood and residents were walking and waving to the runners and walkers.”

Mistzal, who finished the course in 40 minutes and 11 seconds, said she was glad the rain didn’t come.

“I was a little afraid that it was going to rain, but it didn’t and it was nice and cool,” Mistzal said. “I’d love to come back next year.”

Greg Childress: 919-419-6645, @gchild6645