Student Stride returns for ninth year

Event brings in thousands for local schools

The 2012 Student Stride for Education will be Saturday, May 19. Pictured above (left to right) are Stride Director Stephanie Eakins, Jemtegaard Middle School student Tessa Walcott, winner of the 2012 Stride logo contest, and the Stride cat.

On Saturday, May 19, hundreds of local residents will lace up their running shoes and prepare to hit the road in what has become a signature Washougal event.

The Student Stride for Education began in 2004, with just 300 participants. In its ninth-year, organizers are expecting twice that number for the 5K run/walk.

“It has grown and evolved into a community mainstay,” said Stephanie Eakins, race director. “The Stride has been a favorite event with my family for years. We have all participated, whether in the 5k run or student runs over the years. We put it on the calendar and make it a family affair.”

It is Eakins’ first year as director. Rene Carroll, one of the event’s founders, recently stepped down.

“Stepping in as director, I see how all the parts come together to make this event successful,” she said. “Julie Down and Rene Carroll are leaving a true legacy. Because of their vision and determination, the Stride is an event that embodies healthy choices, a sense of belonging and accomplishment.”

Due to sponsorships and donations, the Stride raised more than $9,000 last year. The money is given back to local classrooms in the form of grants from the Washougal Schools Foundation.

“The grants are used to enhance learning and encourage student involvement in the schools,” Eakins said.

Discovery Dental is the chief sponsor of the event. This year Glory Days Trophies and Sports will provide race day shirts and medals.

“Being able to keep these purchases local is a win/win for all of us,” Eakins said.

Runners of all ages can participate in the Stride, held at Washougal High School’s Fishback Stadium. Kindergarten, first- and second-grade students will run a 1.5K course, while third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students will run a 2K. Middle and high school students and adults will take part in the 5K run or walk or as volunteers.

The final heat of the day is The Dash, a race for the “pre-kindy” crowd — just one lap around the track.

Registration is $10, which includes a T-shirt, race-day medal and finish line refreshments. Deadline to guarantee a shirt is April 26, but runners can register up to and including race day.

Registration forms are available at all Washougal schools, Discovery Dental, 2614 “E” St., in Washougal, and at www.discoverydentistry.com. The 5k run/walk begins at 8 a.m., with check-in beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Those who don’t want to race but would like to volunteer can contact Eakins at 513-0525.

“It is worth taking the time to be a part of it and it cannot be done without the countless hours spent behind the scenes from volunteers who are dedicated and want to give back to the community,” Eakins said.