Walkers take to the street as part of the Lighthouse Run in 2015. This year’s event is set for Saturday, June 16.
BY KATIE MATTESON
What started as a “Run For The Sun” has become a beloved 40-year tradition of fun, fitness and fundraising for the Racine Family YMCA.
Runners, walkers and wheelchair racers will take turns lining up at the start line in front of the Y’s Lakefront Branch on Lake Avenue beginning at 7:45 a.m. for Lighthouse Run 2018 on Saturday, June 16.
The inaugural race, introduced in 1978 by Y director Pat Thornton with help from local track coaches and YMCA volunteers, consisted of 2- and 4-mile races.
“I remember my daughter, Cindy Mikulecky, designed the first t-shirt – a sunrise over Lake Michigan,” Thornton said during a recent phone interview. “That same daughter – now a 57-year-old grandmother – competes in Ironman and other triathlons.”
In 1979, the event was renamed the Lighthouse Run with the introduction of a 10-mile race on a certified course taking runners from the Y to the Wind Point Lighthouse and back.
The Lighthouse Run added the four-mile competitive race in 1990.
This year’s event, presented by Educators Credit Union, The Journal Times and Racine Family YMCA, includes the wheelchair division, Image Management 10-mile Competitive Division, Twin Disc 4-Mile Competitive Division, Modine 2- and 4-Mile Fun Run/Walk, Landmark Credit Union Kids Power Race and Cree Mascot Challenge.
Participants may also enter a team in one of three divisions, Competitive Corporate (all team members must be an employee receiving a W-2 form from that particular business/corporation), Competitive Open (all other), Non-Competitive Fun Run/Walk (for the Modine Fun Run/Walk).
This year, “a race within a race” will take place when the Hannes family forms a team to raise money to help Racine resident Lisa Michel Hannes pay for expenses related to her upcoming liver transplant not covered by her health insurance. Her story is on GoFundMe.com/lisa-michel-Hannes-liver-transplant.
Co-race director Nette Marks said that when Peter Hannes asked permission to enter a team to raise funds for his mother during the race, “we were happy to hear that they thought of our race as a way to help with their ‘race.’”
Marks and co-race director Lyn Boehm are Y staffers. In addition to Thornton, past race directors include Don Karkow, Cheryl Buckley and Pete Henkes.
Y CEO Jeff Collen described the Lighthouse Run as unique among the many events competing for runners.
“We’ve established an amazing tradition of offering a competitive challenge to serious runners, while also providing opportunities for literally everyone else,” Collen said. “Runners like our event because of the beautiful scenery along the lake and our distance options, plus our fun run/walk, kids zone and popular water stops involve the community and makes it an amazing day.”
Marks said community support for the event remains strong, with more than 2,500 runners expected to this year’s event.
“We’re very grateful for the financial support from our sponsors, as well as the logistical help from municipal workers, law enforcement and volunteers,” Marks said. “There’s so much that happens behind the scenes to make this event so successful.”
Participants and organizers will celebrate the event’s 40th anniversary during the awards ceremony, which will begin at approximately 10:30 a.m. on the Sam Johnson Parkway adjacent to the finish line.
The celebration will include music by Night Wing, The Kids Zone, sponsored by Zimmerman Architectural Services, featuring activities for kids including painting the lighthouse, day camp games and mingling with the mascots before the popular Landmark Credit Union Kids Zone Race and the Cree Mascot Challenge. There’s still time to register your favorite mascot to participate in the race.
This year, the party will continue as every registered participant will enjoy free admission to Rock the Harbor, a new music festival set for June 14-17 at Pershing Park, just down the hill from the Y. Family members will also receive a discount.
Runners may register via mail, online at lighthouserun.com or in-person at the Racine Family YMCAs. Registration fees by May 31 are $30 for the 10-mile or 4-mile competitive races or $19 or $68 for families of four for the 2- or 4-mile fun run/walks. Late registration rates apply June 1-15 and on race day (6:30 – 7:30 a.m.) cost $45 (4-mile and 10-mile) and $25 (fun run/walk).
Participants are offered the opportunity when they register to make a donation to the Lighthouse Repair Fund.
Proceeds benefit youth and families who could not otherwise afford YMCA membership and programs.
For more information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities, contact Nette Marks at email@example.com.