Inaugural Run Albion was Great Success
Team 1 Plastics, a plastic injection molding company for the transportation industry, is proud to have been a sponsor of the 2017 Run Albion series of races. What started out as a brain child of three local community leaders, Craig Carrel, owner of Team 1 Plastics, Scott Evans, President of Homestead Savings Bank, and Bill Dobbins, owner of Caster Concepts, developed into a successful event that garnered $1800 for local Albion community organizations.
According to Run Albion’s website, the three men all agreed that they wanted to support “… a series of events that focused on all the good things that are going on in Albion.” Evans suggested that “running events are at the heart of many successful communities; they bring people together to celebrate their successes and to build on a healthy lifestyle.” The other two men agreed, and Run Albion was launched.
Once the decision was made to create Run Albion, Dobbins turned to his family, including daughter, Emily Verbeke, for help. Verbeke said that one of her favorite things to do is “… to take ideas and see if they work and see if they are possible. I started looking for a race management company to help support us. We needed to get connected with a company and a runners’ base that already existed.”
“We wanted Run Albion to be for the Albion community, but we also wanted it to be about bringing people into Albion to see all of the things that are happening,” Verbeke said. “The purpose was two-fold: to promote health and wellness within the Albion community and to highlight all that Albion has to offer.”
And, they wanted Run Albion to be unique. So, the organizers chose to make the event to be a three-part series: 3 Races – 1 Town. The series was spread over three separate weekends. Each race had its own theme and its own course.
Run the Rock was held on Friday, May 5, 2017, during graduation weekend at Albion College. Its course ran through the College campus. The second race, History Hustle, held on Friday, July 14, 2017, was focused on the history of Albion. The final race, Forks 5K/10K, was held on Friday, September 15, 2017, during Albion’s annual Festival of the Forks.
“It was important to us to highlight different parts of the city,” Verbeke said, “and I think that everybody really enjoyed having a variety of settings. It wasn’t just all parks, it wasn’t all city, it was a good mix. It got off the street and onto the sidewalks.” She added that 3 Disciplines, the race management company contracted for Run Albion, loved that the City of Albion was so supportive in allowing the races to be run through the town and on the College campus. Their experience is that many cities want races held “way out of town.”
Besides highlighting different parts of the city, Verbeke said that organizers also wanted to highlight three lesser-known organizations in the community to be the financial beneficiaries of the races. They chose the Forks Senior Center to be the benefactor of Run the Rock, the Albion Historical Society of History Hustle, and the Little Lambs of Jesus Preschool & Child Care Center of the Forks 5K/10K. Each organization partnered with Run Albion by recruiting volunteers to work the race for which they were the beneficiary.
Verbeke emphasized some other unique qualities of Run Albion. All of the races were held on Friday evenings which, she admitted, some participants loved while others didn’t. And because the organizers wanted the events to be for all ages, there were Kids’ Fun Runs, and the races had a 70-years old age group (most races’ oldest age group is 50 years).
“We wanted everyone to bring their friends and their co-workers to the events.” Verbeke shared that the employees of Kids N Stuff Children’s Museum made the History Hustle race a company outing. “They were a team. They made team T-shirts, and they walked and they ran together, and they seemed like they were having a great time — just being able to spend time together outside of work.”
One of the fun things the organizers did to help promote Albion was to “… pull some fun facts about Albion and the College and put them on signs throughout the courses,” Verbeke said. “We got some good positive feedback about that. People said things like, ‘I learned something along the way,’ ‘I didn’t know that,’ and ‘It was an interesting story that I read about Mother’s Day.’”
After the successful 2017 Run Albion series, the organizers are planning for 2018. The dates have not been set yet, but Verbeke said that there will definitely be three races on three weekends in 2018 with a potential of adding a fourth race, a one-mile event during one of the three weekends. “One-mile events are growing in popularity, and they are attracting world-class runners and sprinters. And, they are more of a spectator sport because it’s usually on a downhill course, and it’s fast. Top runners complete it in four or five minutes.”
As she reflected on the inaugural Run Albion, Verbeke said, “The whole series was a family undertaking and wouldn’t have been possible without my Dad (Bill Dobbins), my Mom, Karen Dobbins, sister, Caroline Dobbins-Hurteau, sister-in-law, Stephanie Dobbins, brother, Andrew Dobbins, and my husband, Joseph Verbeke. Everyone brought their strengths to the team and then all helped along the way. It came together so well, and it had great community support, and we are just excited to have a lot more people come out to next year’s event, and we want it to keep growing.”
Some stats from Run Albion:
- 125 people unique participants across all three races
- 25% of the participants participated in all three events
- Ages ranged from one year old to 74 with an average age of 34
- 965K of Albion was run/walked over the three events
Verbeke said that she expects that dates for next year’s event will be announced by the first of 2018. She added that they are always looking to add corporate partners to the events.