There are charity 5k races held for just about every kind of cancer. But there has yet to be one held in New York City for one of the fast-growing ones in the U.S.—until now.
Saturday, September 14 marked the first annual Esophageal Cancer Awareness 5k.
Held in Marine Park, Brooklyn just about 50 runners, walkers, spectators, and volunteers joined forces to help spread awareness for esophageal cancer and pay tribute to the lives lost to the disease.
The Esophageal Cancer Awareness 5k was organized by Brooklyn resident and runner Dara Mormile, the Brooklyn Chapter leader of the Salgi Esophageal Cancer Research Foundation.
Mormile, who is currently training for her first half marathon this fall, lost her father to esophageal cancer in 2010, only two short years after being diagnosed.
What made this event so impactful was the fact that it is a lesser-known form of cancer and is often misdiagnosed. Symptoms include heartburn and acid reflux. The 5k served as a great way to spread information about esophageal cancer and raise funds for research.
There is currently no way to detect this cancer early. It’s often found when the cancer is at a later stage, resulting in a low survival rate.
Although I have not lost anyone to esophageal cancer, this 5k remains one that is near and dear to my heart. It was the first time I volunteered at a race, something long overdo.
I also decided to run the 5k, a last-minute decision made at the starting line since I am currently 8 months pregnant.
This was what it was like from the north a volunteer and a runner’s perspective.
Volunteer Duties: Proudly Representing Kramp Krusher
My official reason for being at the race was to represent Kramp Krusher, the company that served as the official sponsor of the race. And in doing so I was more than proud.
Kramp Krushers are energy chews that made for endurance training to replenish glucose and electrolytes lost during workouts and runs. I love them because of its tangy taste and because it really helps my long-distance running performance.
I think its main standout feature for me is its ability to crush muscle cramps from even happening thanks to its calcium lactate and prevents lactic acid build-up.
It’s overall a great product that I stand behind because it works.
I was excited to be there at the race to pass out free samples, share information about this product, and give Kramp Krusher prizes to the top male and female runners.
What It’s Like To Volunteer
I can say as a first-time race volunteer, this was way more rewarding than crossing the finish line.
Okay, I wasn’t doing much besides giving away goodies, but being able to talk with the local community of runners was priceless. I was able to catch up with an old friend and meet new people passionate about journalism and running.
The sun was inviting, the warmth giving us the last taste of summer as people walked, jogged and ran in Marine Park while tables were set up and runners gathered around to pin on their bibs.
The atmosphere itself was the perfect mix of motivating for the runners and respectful for those mourning their losses. The crowd was humble but powerful since many had lost loved ones to esophageal cancer. You could feel like dedication to them in the air.
I firmly believe that it’s the volunteers that are so impactful for runners on the course, and the ones at this 5k were so encouraging and positive.
I would absolutely return to race volunteering, in hopes to root runners on along the course and hand out water.
My duties of giving away the official Kramp Krusher winner prizes was also a great moment to be part of. These runners worked hard so to be able to give them something for their efforts was something I am proud to have the honor of doing.
Changing Hats: From Volunteer To Runner
I registered for the 5k with the idea that maybe I would run, maybe walk it, maybe just hang by my Kramp Krusher table.
But since the tables were located at the start, it made sense to at least trek out there even if it wasn’t for the full 3.1 miles.
The course for the Esophageal Cancer Awareness 5k consisted of three and a half loops around the park. I figured why not just jog/walk a loop?
And then after the first loop, I felt like why not run this? So I did.
Now, this was more of a waddle of a jog than a run, and I did stop to walk for a small stretch past the water station at each loop. But I went on to finish the 5k at 8 months pregnant—something I never thought I would do.
What’s more impressive was Leonel Perez, the first person to finish the race at 18:55.94. That breaks down to a 6:06 pace.
Nadya Resnick was the first female finisher at 24:48.39, with a 7:58 pace.
The course itself was flat and fast, with lots to see whether it was kids playing football in the center field or passing by Brooklynites walking their dogs or shooting hoops to the right side.
The 5k was timed thanks to EliteFeats, another co-sponsor of the race. The race company provided all runners with finisher photos and their stats.
This race had a strong community feel, and even brought out State Senators Andrew Gounardes and Roxanne Persaud.
Gounardes used the event as a way to support a good cause and get a morning run in. He finished the 5k in third place, at 24:16.19.
Participants gathered around post-run for awards and a wine raffle, as well as closing remarks from Mormile and those who lost loved ones to the cancer.
While somber, there was also hope in the air as Mormile praised participants for helping her spread awareness to esophageal cancer.
All proceeds raised went to help fund research for early diagnosis, prevention, and a cure.
Setting The Pace To Raise Esophageal Cancer Awareness, Loretta Chin, Canarsie Courier