After 10 years, and more than $100,000 raised for health grants for schools, RunDuvall, in its current form, is coming to an end.
Race director Paige Denison has simply become too busy.
She became the national director of EnhanceFitness, an exercise program for older adults. That program is now in 39 states.
“It keeps me hopping all over the country,” she said.
Health and wellness isn’t just her job, it’s her passion.
Her passion for fitness is what led her to start RunDuvall 10 years ago.
“I was participating in a lot of runs and just thought it would be great to have one locally,” she said. She had some experience as race director from previous races.
“Our philosophy was always number one, keep everybody safe, and number two, have fun,” she said.
The first year they had fewer than 300 runners. The last few years they’ve been selling out, filling the race course to capacity at 800 to 900 runners.
Putting on a race that popular is challenging.
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” she said, “but we were very blessed to have a group of about 90 runners who stepped up to put it on.”
She has a lot of good memories from RunDuvall. She saw kids start as toddlers, waddling the first yards of a kids dash, and watched them grow up, to be competitors in the longer runs. She watched her own kids run. She remembers runner Eric Garner, who won so often they joked about renaming the race the Garner 5K.
She also remembers good times with volunteers behind the scenes.
“Two in the morning before race day, when volunteers would be over here having not slept all night,” she said. “Lots of giggle fits at dawn.”
Plus, there’s all the money they raised. Over the years, the run raised more than $100,000 for the Riverview Education Foundation. The foundation gives grants for projects and programs at the Riverview School District. The money from the run went specifically toward grants for programs that support health and wellness. Projects ranging from passing out pedometers in school to education programs on mental health were funded in part from the proceeds from the run.
“The idea the whole time was to build a healthy community and to raise funds for health and wellness,” Denison said.
Denison is an avid runner herself.
“The day to day experience of running is kind of like meditation,” she said. “It’s a great stress reliever. It’s a great way to solve problems.”
However, she might not be the person you’d expect to be a running enthusiast. She has asthma, and has limited lung capacity.
“Running helps me use all of my lung capacity that I have,” she said. She has run 30 marathons.
“It’s also super social if you want it to be,” she said. “I have a big family of running friends that I can run with all over the country.”
After Denison moved to Duvall in 1997, she got very involved with health and wellness in the community, even teaching physical education at the school district.
“Even though working with older adults is my main work,” she said, “the best way to have a healthy older adult is to raise a healthy young one.”
And the benefits for active kids aren’t just physical.
“Students that feel good learn better and get more out of school,” she said.
RunDuvall also served as a way to get children active and running.
“All along there’s been free kids dashes just to encourage kids to run,” she said.
This year, the foundation’s new benefit run will be called REF Run, held on June 5. Runners can enter either a flat, fast 5K or a hilly, challenging 10K through the streets of Duvall. Both start and finish at McCormick Park downtown. To register, visit refweb.org/ref_run.