Kayla Run returns for 7th annual race

A Kayla Run tradition is the entry of (from left) Janae Jones, Kelsey Meyers, Kaitlin O’Mara, Sam Minkler, Danielle Bila and Kelsey Krych.

A Kayla Run tradition is the entry of (from left) Janae Jones, Kelsey Meyers, Kaitlin O’Mara, Sam Minkler, Danielle Bila and Kelsey Krych.

GOODRICH — The seventh Annual Kayla O’Mara Memorial Road Race will take place on Aug. 4, but with a few changes to the start and finish because of ongoing work at the football stadium and track. The 10k run will begin at 7:30 a.m. followed by the 5k run/walk at 9 a.m. and the one mile fun run/walk at 9:45 a.m.

The 5k and 10k races will include chip start and finish and the 10k is a Road Runners Club of America Michigan State Championship race.

The one mile fun run will begin on the bike path along Hegel Road and follows the last mile of the 5k race to finish at the middle school. The 5k and 10k run are loop courses on paved and gravel roads that finish at the middle school. The United States Association of Track and Field Certified courses cover the streets Kayla used to train on.

With the Goodrich football stadium and track in the process of a makeover, the finish line will now be on the middle school practice soccer fields instead of the high school track. All parking and packet pickup will also be at the middle school this year.

Kayla’s life was taken unexpectedly in a January 24, 2006, car accident that critically injured her twin sister Kaitlin and the girls’ friend Danielle Bila. Kaitlin is joined each year by friends and Goodrich grads Janae Jones, Kelsey Krych, Kelsey Meyers, and others who don matching sports tops with images of Kayla. They join hands as they finish the 5k race together in honor of Kayla.

Kayla was a standout runner at Goodrich, where she and Kaitlin charged onto the Michigan high school running scene in 2003 when they were freshmen. Kayla had led the cross country team to its first ever cross country state championship, finishing second in the Div. 3 meet. She also helped Goodrich win a total of five state championships; three in cross country and two in track.

Custom finisher medals will be awarded in the 5k and 10k races this year. All finishers will receive a medal in the one mile fun run/walk. Saucony shoes will be given out to the overall male and female winners of the 5k/10k combo. One hundred dollars will be given to anyone who breaks the course record in either the 5k or 10k races.

As a way to recognize Kayla, her parents also created the Kayla O’Mara Memorial Scholarship that has handed out numerous scholarships to area student athletes since its inception. The 2011 winners include Andrew Tallman, Samantha Zirzow, Chelsea Hopkins, Jake Brejnak and Ashley St. Aubin of Goodrich, Drake Carr of Grand Blanc, Paris Wood of Flushing, Michael Stratton of Flint Powers and Victoria Peet of Lapeer West.

“Thanks to the support of the community, we were able to award $10,000 to Michigan students to help with college expenses,” said Kayla’s older sister, Erin. “We are so thankful for the support of the community in allowing us to host this event and supporting us in honoring Kayla.”

Current record holders include Suzanne Larsen in the women’s 5k in 17:11 set in 2007 and Alex Ralston in 15:17 in the men’s 5k in 2011. The women’s 10k record is 36:36 by Larsen in 2010 while Justin Zanotti set the male 10k record in 2008 in 31:30.

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