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Lori VanValkenburg is joined by her son Leo at the final stretch on Highland Drive near the finish line at the Newpark Recreation Center during the 4th Annual Running With Ed relay race. VanValkenburg and nearly 2,000 Summit County residents helped raise $152,000 for Park City School District schools during the 4th annual running of the event. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record

Rain didn't force the first Running with Ed to abandon its muddy beginning four years ago, and it didn't prevent this year's event from having its biggest team turnout yet, according to Park City Education foundation spokesperson Jennifer Billow.


“The last two years the weather has cooperated with us and the rain this year was much like the beginning,” Billow said. “I think it adds to the allure of the race.”


This year 850 runners making up 175 teams, trudged through the 38-mile relay course last Saturday, to help raise money for the foundation to distribute to Park City School District schools through site grants.


Last year, the event raised $135,000, and of that total, 45 teams raised $42,000 through donations ranging from $200 to more than $6,000 in a little more than a month, a staggering amount the foundation didn't think it could surpass, said Billow.


“All of the teams that participated in the fundraising aspect last year went off the hook raising $32,000 more than the year before. We didn't know how we could beat that amount, or if it was even a realistic goal,” Billow said. “We already have $65,000 from team fundraising, and we are still bringing in additional donations. Matching last year would have been an accomplishment, this is unreal.”


Fundraising for the event initially got off to a slow start, but Friday morning before the race, teams competing for first place based on money raised went into a frenzy to earn the honor and raised funds to a staggering amount. The race as a whole raised $152,000, added Billow.


“The teams were able to raise nearly $30,000 on the last day,” Billow said. “It was an amazing 12 hour battle between competitors and friends to see who could raise the most money. The energy really made it a fun atmosphere.”


During 2011, the foundation decided to direct more efforts towards fundraising and selected Elissa Aten as fundraising chairperson for the annual running event. Teams raised about $9,000 the year before she took the position, and through her efforts helped raise $42,000 in 2012.


“We couldn't believe the impact Elissa made last year,” Billow said. “She has really helped bring the entire community together for the event and the results show.”


Last Friday morning, three teams stepped up and challenged each other to get the top spot in fundraising. Five Fat Guys, headed by team captain Sean Beard earned first place raising $16,200, followed closely by OK3AIR and team captain Nadim AbuHaidar in second place with $12,360 raised. Are We There Yet, Dad, led by Mike Polinsky, raised $5,050 earning third place.


Thirteen other teams raised over $1,000 each – another feat unexpected by the foundation.


Captain Hookers 2-Red team, compiled of students from Treasure Mountain Junior High to honor their favorite teacher Julie Hooker, also competed in the race. With an emphasis on including more students and teachers, the foundation was pleased to have 100 teachers enter 20 teams in the race.


Nearly 300 volunteers made it possible for the 2,000 Summit County residents, friends and family to show up in elaborate costumes to run in the race that was founded by Tim and Joanna Chesley four years ago.


The $152,000 raised will be compiled with other fundraising events the foundation holds throughout the year and will be distributed to PCSD schools through site grants next spring.

Updated: Wed, May 29, 2013