How a women's 10k brought the city out
The people of Haiti might feel a long way from southern California, especially with current political unrest engulfing the country, but on Sunday night in LA, a group of runners showed out for the people of Haiti in a big way.
Inside a crowded gallery space in downtown LA, DJ’s from Good Vibes Track Club and Koreatown Run Club set the tone for an epic night of beers, street racing, and fundraising. The cause? Run Across Haiti, an annual project by WORK that aims to facilitate sustainable empowerment projects in the region (read more on Run Across Haiti here).
The event was ‘Burnout’, a women’s only 10k created by local runner and one of the leaders of Good Vibes Track Club, Noel Velasco.
The unsanctioned race was capped at 25 women, and open to runners from all over LA, with a lot of local crews represented. In addition to 100% of the entry fee being donated, cash from the booze was donated, and there was a silent auction of art, with all pieces donated by artists from the run community.
The race sold out almost immediately when registrations went live weeks ago, despite the course being kept a secret until 24 hours before the race.
Finally, 15 minutes before the race started, there was a moment of silence to honour the memory of Kathleen, a member of Koreatown Run Club.
Lizeth Aparicio was one of the 25 women who signed up to race Burnout. "Having worked on Skid Row in the past, I can't believe it took me this long to run through it in the dark of the night. Instead of running from, we ran through, paying homage to what is home for so many."
"To me, this race was not about running...running is second nature by now.
It was about the women in this community and seizing an important opportunity that may never come again."
With big blocks and a sprawling city, LA is as good a place as any for an unsanctioned night race on the roads.
"We made sure we had lead bikes on course, and we had a few people on the sketchy parts of the route as well...broken asphalt, tight corners. We had one woman roll an ankle but thankfully the bike was right there so we could get her back via an Uber" - Noel Velasco.
"When the lead pack pulled away from me two miles in, my motivation to keep pushing was for women everywhere - women in Haiti who we wrote messages to beforehand, and women behind those tents steps away from us.
I may have ran solo for those last four miles, but in heart, not at all."
The racing was of course the primary part of the evening, but it didn't mean people were going to leave once it finished. A $5 wristband unlocked unlimited beers, which kept things rolling well into the night.
When the space cleared out, the floors were swept and the door shut behind him for the final time, Velasco's event had raised over $1,700 for Run Across Haiti.
It's inspiring to see the running community coming together to do something positive for another part of society, or in this case for people in another country. This spirit should be nurtured and encouraged so it may grow in scale in coming years.
"Piecing together this race was more difficult than I expected, especially in the last 48 hours.
But, I couldn’t be more happy knowing all the women had a great time racing and the LA running community made a significant contribution to WORK and their efforts in Haiti."