When the YWCA Lancaster held the first local Race Against Racism 20 years ago, it was not intended to be a fundraiser. "Sure, we thought it would be nice if we made some money to support our programs, but the motivation was more to bring awareness to the fact that racism continues to be an issue in our community and our country and to bring together people who wanted to show their support of a racially just society," said Angie Lightfoot Roth, chief financial officer for the YWCA Lancaster.
Nonetheless, the event ended up raising approximately $20,000 its first year when registration tripled the organizers' expectations. "The goal of the first year was to have 500 runners and walkers. We were overwhelmed when nearly 1,500 people registered," recalled Roth. In 2017, Lancaster's Race Against Racism and Humanity Fest - a multicultural festival held concurrently with the race - raised more than $100,000 for initiatives to help eliminate racism.
According to Roth, the Race Against Racism was an idea from the YWCA USA, with races being held on the same day in various places throughout the country. Nancy Shaub Knight and Belva Brown Jordan are among the primary "founding mothers" for the YWCA Lancaster Race Against Racism.
"There is a real sense of community leading up to the race as well as on race day," shared YWCA Lancaster spokeswoman Susan Eberly. "The Race (Against Racism) has brought awareness to the diversity of our community and helps go beyond that diversity to inclusion."
The 20th annual Race Against Racism is set to take place rain or shine on Saturday, April 28, on a 5K (3.1-mile) certified course that will take runners and walkers through historic Lancaster. The event will begin at 9 a.m., with the start/finish line at Musser Park, located at East Chestnut and North Lime streets in Lancaster. Timing clocks will be located at the 1- and 2-mile marks.
"This was the first 5K that I ever ran," shared Roth. "It is a perfect race for a first-time runner because there are so many people running and walking at different paces." Sometimes the hills around the campus of J.P. McCaskey can prove to be a challenge, but Roth noted that having the Earth Rhythms drummers in that area can help boost motivation.
Interested participants may register by creating a team, joining an existing team, or registering as individuals. Team registration is only available online and must be completed by Friday, April 13. Individual registrations may be made online or on the day of the race beginning at 7 a.m. To register, readers may visit https://register.chronotrack.com/r/32753. Strollers are permitted.
An awards ceremony will be held in Musser Park at the Lancaster Art Museum's portico at approximately 10:30 a.m. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top male and female finishers in various age categories.
A Kids' Fun Run will be held after the 5K at approximately 10:30 a.m. Children age 12 and younger may compete free of charge. Every participant will receive a ribbon. Registration is required and may be completed at the aforementioned website.
Humanity Fest, a component added to the event on its 10th anniversary, is open to the public and will take place in Musser Park from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Nonprofit organizations focused on equality and justice in Lancaster County will have informational booths, and a variety of food and locally handmade crafts will be available to purchase.
For more information or to learn about volunteer opportunities, readers may visit https://ywcalancaster.org/raceagainstracism/.