By Leah Allen
BC Staff Writer
Octoberfest is almost here and this year the festivities on Saturday will begin early with a 5-K starting at 8 a.m.
The 5-K was spearheaded in part by Festival Co-Chair Wilson Langston.
“With most of the Memphis Barbecue Network competitions there is usually a 5-K run,” said Langston. “We didn’t have one, so we put one together.”
For Langston the benefits are as straightforward as the desire to hold the event.
“The whole idea is just to get local runners out to enjoy downtown and hopefully stay for the festival. We have a lot people who enjoy doing 5-Ks and other running events. It’s a good way for people to get in a little exercise before they enjoy the festival,” he said.
Everybody who finishes will get a participation medal and the race will be professionally timed.
“The top two finishers, male and female, will get a nice trophy. We will have first and second place medals for the top male and female finishers in each age division and there will also be a link where runners can see themselves cross the finish line,” Langston said.
The registration fee for the race is $25 and all proceeds will go towards the purchase of armored vests for the Cleveland Police Department.
“We felt like that was a group who was really deserving of the funds for this first year,” said Langston.
The vests cost between $600 and $650 dollars each.
“We appreciate them wanting to help us out,” said Cleveland Police Chief Buster Bingham.
The department has vests for officers but Bingham said “like anything else, they do wear out over time. The average shelf life for one of these vests is between five and seven years depending on a number of different factors.”
Unlike some television shows where officers only wear a protective vest on special assignments, Cleveland officers use the equipment daily.
“They are used to keep our officers safe and of course we want to keep our officers in the most update and safest gear possible. Unfortunately the cost of buying these can really create a burden on the department.”
While participating in the race will help support a worthy cause Langston said there are other reasons to sign up as well.
“The benefit of running in the Delta is that everything is flat so there’s no hills to climb. The weather should be great and, it’s a nice easy course,” he said with a laugh.
Runners will start at the old Ellis Theater before turning down South Bayou, and then they will follow the old railroad tracks and finally loop back to finish at the theater.
“We will have a live DJ, runners will get to go past all of the barbeque teams and the railroad tracks are a unique part of Cleveland that a lot of people haven’t seen before. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he added.
To sign up for the event, visit www.octoberfestms.com
By Leah Allen