By Sue Moore
The 31st running of the 5K Hearty Hustle takes place on Saturday, May 12 at Vicksburg High School with a new twist for all registrants. Called the Vicksburg Community School Challenge, it allows each runner to select one of the five Vicksburg schools in the district as their favorite, giving each school a chance to win a $500 prize for the most runners entered.
The high school, middle school, Sunset, Tobey, and Indian Lake are of different size. The winning school will be determined by the number of registrations compared to the school’s student population. It’s the year of encouraging students, their parents, grandparents and friends to be a part of the fun and family feeling that the Hearty Hustle has been known for, according to the organizing team.
The run/walk was started in 1987 by Bronson Hospital in Vicksburg as a way to encourage the community to get out, get running and stay healthy. Danna Downing chaired it for the hospital and Tonya Nash chaired it for community education. They became the spark plugs as the run progressed through the years and became successful, with up to 400 participants when the weather cooperated. With the retirements of Downing and Nash, the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation (VCSF) agreed to administer the race with members of the board planning and staging it for the last several years.
All the other fun features of the race will still be in effect with the starting gate set for 9 a.m. at the high school. Runners will be traversing the village of Vicksburg streets and ending up at the high school stadium. Mike Roy, Vicksburg’s athletic director, has been the race announcer for over 15 years, bellowing out the runner’s name and number as they enter the home stretch in the stadium. Water, food and congratulations will greet each person at the finish line with prizes awarded to the top four first place overall winners, four masters’ winners, 28 divisional winners and raffle prizes. A Baby Bolt is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the middle of the stadium field for children four and under, just to give them a feel for learning to run.
Race sponsors include Bronson Hospital and the Tina Hayward family. At the $250 donation level are L & L Driving School, Vicksburg Lions Club, Greenstone farm Credit Services, Lysters Roofing, Edward Jones Investment; Ozland Enterprises, Kalsee Credit Union, Grossman Law Office, Ronningen Research, Paper City Development and Frederick Construction.
Registration can take place online at https://runsignup.com/Race/MI/Vicksburg/VicksburgHeartyHustle. The cost is $20 for each runner and $15 for students under 18 or seniors until May 10. For further information, contact Beth O’Rouke at 269-321-1006.