Folks, Flambeau Rama is here again. That means it’s time to get out your beer goggles, lace up them polka shoes, and stuff your pockets with wads of cash to burn on carnival food. If the weather holds, we’re in for a solid four days jam-packed with silly things to do, amusements of endless description, and wandering social conversations, none of which seem to result in any definite conclusion.
Amongst the many scheduled events, I tend to look for those things that generate a real sense of community. You know, the ones where you can be yourself, where there’s a 99% chance you’re going to run into someone you know and actually want to talk to.
Amongst qualifying events of this nature, I’ve found in recent years, is the Evergreen 5K Road Run on Saturday morning. In contrast to the many opportunities to drink gallons of beer at all other points of ’Rama, the Evergreen offers a sober version of events that is friendly to all ages and abilities. A bonus is the Chase the Eagle run for kids 10 and under following the Evergreen, in which kids literally chase the Screaming Eagles mascot for two blocks.
Now, there are some more serious runners that come to the Evergreen than other area fun runs, but folks interested in trying it for the first time need not be discouraged. The great thing about these runs is they are short enough for a beginner to attempt, but long enough for serious runners to test their speed. At every one I’ve been to, there are always groups of people who walk, often times with kids in strollers. There has never been any objection to this, and the general atmosphere at these events is supportive of all levels. It’s the being there, the trying that counts.
There are also kids who run the race with a parent or sometimes on their own. It is impressive to see these kids out there, covering 3.1 miles as quick as they can. From my observations, the adults on the course are very good at making sure the kids are doing fine and are safe. If that’s not community, I don’t know what is.
Last weekend I was at the Pioneer Days Fun Run, and as people came across the finish line there was always a smattering of clapping and cheering. But when a little girl, probably no older than 6 years old, came trotting down the final stretch to cross the line with her dad, the entire crowd roared to life with applause. Now that’s a positive message.
Running, jogging, walking, whatever category you want to put yourself into, is oftentimes a solo activity. Now, that’s not inherently a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s one of the most attractive features of the activity. I swear I’ve written four or five books in my head on walks. However, there are times when having a partner or a group can be a nice change of pace. (Forgive the pun.) Runs like the Evergreen, or the Pioneer Fun Run, bring together that otherwise scattered community. They therefore help foster and enrich that community, this community, our community.