August 27, 2013

ROAD RACE NOTEBOOK: Road race, and yes, pony rides

By Matt DiFilippo
Staff Writer

Few if any 5-kilometer races also offer pony rides for children. But in the case of a race Saturday in Benton, that's in keeping with the theme.

The 5K & 10K Horse Rescue Benefit Run/Walk begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, at Sunshine Acres on Albion Road. It's the first year of the race, and the money goes to care for the five horses on the farm.

"They've all come from either abused or adopted-type situations," said Leslie Look, who cares for the horses. "They're definitely better off now than they were."

The cost is $20 for either race. Same-day registration is available from 8-9 a.m. on Saturday. There is also a Kids Fun Run at 9:30 a.m.

Pony rides are $5. "He was a lesson pony for 22 years, so he's real tame," Look said.

Look said the idea for the race came from her friend Carrie Davis. Look said she's not sure what to expect for a turnout, but she's hoping for 30 to 40 runners.

"But it'd be nice if we had more than that," she said.

Look estimates it costs $8,000 to $10,000 per year to care for the horses. She has a story about how she acquired each one. One was given to her when it was under a tarp in the winter, and was going without food. Another was put out to pasture, and gave birth 10 times, including a son who was born with a club hoof because the mother was not fed properly. Another was jumpy because it was beaten.

"It's a pretty classic issue," Look said. "People have this fantasy about horses. They think it's a wonderful experience -- which it is -- but it's a lot of hard work, and it's a lot of investment. It's a commitment for 30-40 years."

* * *

A road race's advertising can sometimes give you an idea to the theme of the race. That's the case with the Downtown Rundown, with a website touting it as "the only 5k with a water stop AND a cupcake stop along the route."

The Downtown Rundown is Saturday in Augusta, and is put on by Kennebec Valley Coaching. It's actually three races, starting from the KVC location on Front Street: The Kidtastic Obstacle Dash at 8 a.m., The Bigasstic Uphill Dash at 8:15, and the 5K at 8:30.

"It's just a very casual event," said Amy Lawson, the head coach and chief motivator at KVC. "We try to make fun the No. 1 priority of the event. Usually, most races have a water stop at mile 2. So we have two tables at mile 2 -- one is water and Gatorade, and one is cupcakes."

The cost is $10 for each of the races. Online pre-registration is closed, but same-day registration is still available.

Another unique feature of the race is the V.I.PEE pass. It's $5 and means you can use the bathroom in the studio at KVC instead of a nearby port-a-potty.

"Last year, every single person bought the V.I.PEE pass," Lawson said. "It raised our revenue by 50 percent."

All of the money raised goes to Hearts for Ezra. The foundation is named for Ezra Bessey, who died in February at 8 months old from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The goal of Hearts for Ezra is to get the word out about SMA and help find a cure. According to the foundation's website, one out of every 6,000 babies is born with SMA.

The Kennebec Journal reported on the Bessey family in a March story here:

Lawson said she's expecting around 100 people, and she adds that the race usually gets a fair number of walkers. To emphasize the cause, the runner bibs and the mile markers will be in the shape of red hearts, and the cupcakes will have red hearts on them.

(Continued on page 2)

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