BOZEMAN — Holidays inevitably bring road races, and the nonprofit Reach, Inc., in Bozeman held its 16th annual Reach Race for Independence on the Fourth of July.
The funds raised at the event go toward adults with developmental disabilities, helping them lead a life of independence — just like what this day stands for.
“A board member actually started it, and he thought that our mission of helping people live independently correlated quite well with celebrating the independence of our country, so he thought that we would merge the two, and so 16 years ago this race began," Reach, Inc., executive director Dee Metrick said. "It was very small. It’s grown quite a bit.”
There were just about 300 participants racing, and their support broke the record for most donations in history of the event.
The support was seen from not just from local runners, but it ranged to all across the world — as away far as Australia.
“We also have people coming from all over the country, and that’s really fun to just get to show people some of our in town trails, introduce them to our clients," Metrick said. "We have a number of clients who come and enjoy the morning and get to be with the people who support them in this community.”
The first place female finisher was one of those visitors.
She ran the 10k with her family, and they crossed the finish line as with the time of 42:4.
“It was so much fun," Lauren Warkentin said. "I’m so glad I did it. We’re visiting family here."
"We’re actually from Alaska, and that was this little guy’s first race, and he had so much fun," she said as she nodded to her son, Emmett, she was holding on her hip. "His daddy pushed him, and I ran with them. And it was just so fun, it was a great course and a great cause, so we loved it.”
Volunteers were helping set up well before 5 a.m., and the first race started promptly at 8 a.m.
The full event then runs for multiple hours. Both winners for the races and the raffles go home with prizes!
“We start with the 10k first at 8 o’clock, and then the 5k a bit after that and then the 1k," Metrick said. "It all depends where people are on the course, and how fast they’re moving. But generally, the first race is at 8 and the last race will happen before 8:30.
Winning can be great, especially with the competitive running community there is in Bozeman, but what matters most is the cause that everyone is running for and supporting on the holiday.
“I love running," Warkentin said. "I run all the time, but to be able to run and give back to the community a little bit and other people, it means even more. So, it was a great opportunity, and it’s so fun that I was able to win and have fun and support a great cause too.”
Metrick mirrored the same sentiment. She smiled when explaining what her favorite part about the race day is.
“I love having the greater Bozeman community physically show up and be here with the Reach community, and having us all mix together and just being happy and celebrating," Metrick said. "It is truly a celebration.”
For more information on how to get involved with Reach, visit this link.