Discover Whitewater Series to include herd start, Fit Kid Shuffle

By Heather Ruenz

Staff Writer

While not everything from the pre-COVID days will return for this year’s Discover Whitewater Series half marathon and 5K, organizers are nonetheless excited for what they were able to put back in place.

“We’re back to officially running our races like we used to, with the official herd start, but when we announced the race last September, we were still under the guidelines in place at the time. So, while we were able to bring some things back, by the time guidelines changed, it was too late to get everything done,” Jeff Knight, of the Greater Whitewater Committee, said.

In addition to the runners starting together – those who are not vaccinated are being asked to wear a mask anytime they’re not running – the Fit Kid Shuffle is back, though it will be broken up into assigned times to limit the number of participants running at the same time.

Knight said one of the things they’re most looking forward to is having spectators along the route, cheering on the runners.

“We learned a lot last year about how to run a safe race. That experience allowed us to bring back spectators because the event is outside and is spread out, so we’re encouraging people to come out for it and support it,” he said.

For those who would like to do more than just cheer, Knight said the event features close to 240 volunteers on race weekend.

“A lot of wonderful people get involved and that’s really great,” he said.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three men and women with the top three finishers being presented $400, $250 and $150, respectively, along with a gift certificate from Performance Running Outfitters.

The number of participants allowed has doubled over last year, from 150 up to 300, in both the 5K and half marathon.

“We’re confident we can host a safe event with that increase,” Knight said. “Some of the things we used to do – the age race awards, the Kids Corral, the Kiwanis breakfast and so on, unfortunately, those are not back yet but the race committee would like to bring back permanently and we’re pretty confident that will happen.”

He said the success of the event since it began in 2013 is in large part because of strong partnerships with several groups.

“We work with the Whitewater Police Department and the sheriff’s departments from Walworth County and Jefferson County and we couldn’t do it without their assistance,” Knight said.

“UW-Whitewater, the Whitewater Unified School District and the City of Whitewater are also vital to the event – not only on race weekend but all year round – so we’re very thankful for their ongoing support,” he added.

According to Knight, in addition to the event getting rave reviews from participants over the years, it’s proven to be a positive way to support the community.

“The bottom line is it supports five great community charities and the people that have participated in the past have been very pleased,” he said. “Things are going well as it gets closer and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Race weekend details

The W3 Fit Kid Shuffle will be noon to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Whitewater High School. The event itself will last 10 to 12 minutes and is limited to 20 participants per timeslot plus parents and guardians.

Kids (and parents/guardians) can walk or run around the track and participate in obstacles set up Wagons, strollers and wheelchairs are welcome but pets, scooters, skateboards and bikes are not allowed on the track.

The shuffle is free and registrants will receive an email confirmation with a link to reserve a time slot.

Half marathon and 5K packet pickup will take place at Whitewater High School between noon and 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 18 and 6 to 7:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 19.

The 5K and half marathon will take place on Sunday, Sept. 19, beginning at Whitewater High School, with the following start times: half marathon wheelchair event, 7:55 a.m.; half marathon and half marathon relay, 8 a.m.; 5K wheelchair division, 8:10 a.m.; and the 5K, 8:15 a.m.

The cost to participate in the 5K is $30 and in the half marathon is $65.

Giving back

The Discover Whitewater Series, a half marathon and 5K, is held annually in September. It aims to promote the City of Whitewater and highlight its greatest features, along with encouraging a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages.

The Greater Whitewater Committee, Inc. initiated the event in 2013. Since then, the DWS has led to more than $204,000 being distributed to five organizations in efforts to build a stronger community.

Those five organizations are:

– Working for Whitewater’s Wellness (also known as W3), a coalition that seeks to promote physical, mental, spiritual and social wellness within the context of connecting with one’s community by individual and community attention to eating wisely, physical activity, purpose and social connection;

– Bethel House, which provides interim housing for homeless families in Whitewater with children for up to a year while assisting with utilizing various social services to transition them back to independent housing;

– Whitewater LEADS, a mission to support literacy in all its diverse forms throughout the boundaries of the Whitewater Unified School District by a group of city officials, UW-Whitewater faculty, business leaders and WUSD faculty;

– J-Hawks Aquatic Club, which uses funds raised to help support J-Hawk Aquatic Club swimmers and scholarships for Whitewater children to learn to swim;

– Whitewater Unified School District, with funds going toward supporting the district’s efforts to achieve academic excellence and raise ACT scores.

Get involved

There are many ways to be part of the DWS team through volunteering, including some areas that allow teenagers to help out. Below are some of the volunteer opportunities available:

  • Registration – assisting with packet pick up
  • Medical team – be available to assist with medical needs along the race route, as assigned by Whitewater EMS staff
  • Course marshal – providing course directions to participants along the race route
  • Water stations – pre-pour water and Gatorade and help with cleanup of the area the station covers
  • Walkers – walk behind the last participants and in front of the wagon the entire distance in the Half Marathon
  • Fit Kid Shuffle – assist with registration and handing out medals and snacks.

To register, make a donation, or learn more about becoming a sponsor or volunteer, visit runwhitewater.com.

 
 

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