Registration for the race closed Friday, April 11, and Jennifer Billow, the PCEF events, marketing and communications manager, said as of Friday morning, about the same number of participants and teams as last year had registered.
"Right now it looks like we are going to have about 170 teams, so we are very excited," she said. "The other exciting thing is that people are taking advantage of the bigger team option, since registration was usually limited to five people on a team."
This year, the PCEF opened registrations up to 10 people per team. Now Billow said there are about eight 7-person teams and 12 6-person teams. There are nine exchange points equipped with water and bathrooms throughout the course where team members will exchange a wrist strap relay-style.
Billow attributes the growth and success of the relay to the title sponsor, Ragnar Relay, as well as Timothy and Joanna Chesley of Chesley Electric. Both have helped the PCEF since they first came up with the idea of a relay race fundraiser six years ago.
Other sponsors include Vail and Canyons Resort, Park City Television, Silver Mountain Sports Club, Educational Advantage, Triumph Gear Systems and local UPS Stores.
For a $10 entrance fee, Papa John's will provide pizza, Park City Meat and Provisions will provide hamburgers and Winder Farms will serve chocolate milk to the children in attendance. Various other sponsors will serve drinks, give away free prizes and host children's activities like face-painting and spray-on tattoos.
"We are very lucky and grateful that we have so many generous sponsors, because they help cover the costs of the race. So when you register or start the team fundraising portion of the race, every dollar goes to the Ed Foundation," Billow said. "They really make it so that when you are paying for your team or making a donation to your neighbor's team, you can be confident that money will go right back out into our schools."
Billow said last year's Running with Ed Relay Race raised about $130,000, and that money went straight into the $165,000 in school-site grants that will be awarded to schools in the district in the next week or so.
In the past, money raised by Running with Ed has funded initiatives like the Author-In-Residence program, the art specialists at each of the elementary schools and the National Competition Fund at the high school.
Due to the success of academic clubs at Park City High School at state and regional competitions, the PCEF granted the school a fund which covers the costs of sending those teams to national competitions throughout the year. "In fact, the high school has done so well with their clubs this year that the funds are already all gone," Billow said.
The school-site grant process includes a meeting between PCEF Executive Director Abby McNulty, Superintendent Ember Conley and newly appointed Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Einhorn. Billow said the three of them review all of the grant requests sent in to the PCEF by principals and evaluate whether some of the school site grants can be pushed into the district-grant "bucket."
"For example, all four elementary schools asked for some more Dual Language Immersion program help," Billow said. "Conley and Einhorn decided to push that into the district-grant bucket, because those are very broad grants. That is our biggest bucket."
The school-site grants funded by Running with Ed include the after-school programs at all four elementary schools and the Latinos in Action programs at the middle school, junior high and high school. Billow said Running with Ed makes launching pilot programs possible.
Rather than making three- to five-year commitments to programs with funds from the state, the school district can try out a program or curriculum with a private investment from the community raised by the PCEF.
"Without having to use taxpayer dollars, the school district can buy something they think might be successful and helpful," Billow said. "Sometimes things don't work, and it's better to find that out on a smaller scale before going too far into it."
That is why Billow encourages the community to attend the event, even if it is just to support a team running the relay or to celebrate at the finish line.
"People are having a great time, doing something active and raising money, which are three things Park City does really well. You get that all in one package at Running with Ed," Billow said. "With this fundraiser, you're not asking the community to buy another gala ticket or donate another item. They get something out of it, too, and it's just a great way to bring the community, school district and families all together."
Running with Ed will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 17, at the Basin Rec Fieldhouse at Kimball Junction. Packet pick-up is currently set to be held Friday, May 16, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.runningwithed.com.