Gunderson 5K race set for Saturday

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

CONYERS -- Runners will be able to test themselves while helping local students with college expenses Saturday at the Sixth Annual Aubrae Gunderson Memorial Scholarship 5K Walk and Run.

The race at Heritage High School is becoming a local tradition on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as the first opportunity for some to work off the turkey dinner.

Organizers said they are on track to have about 300 people register for the event. The trend in past races has been that just as many people register on the day of the race.

"The event is fun for the whole family with great door prizes, live music, awards, and long-sleeved T-shirts," said Brad Smith, Heritage track coach. "We are expecting between 500 and 600 participants. It's a great way to spend Thanksgiving break and remember and honor Aubrae."

The race is named for Aubrae Gunderson. She was 15 years old and a sophomore at Heritage when she was struck and killed by an automobile while practicing with her cross country team on Sept. 26, 2005.

Dan Gunderson, Aubrae's father, said community support has been tremendous and helped the event grow. Proceeds from the race go toward the Aubrae Gunderson Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund began with awards of a $1,250 college scholarship to a male and female student athlete at Heritage. Last year, the fund began awarding $1,000 to students at Rockdale County and Salem high schools as well.

Gunderson said if support continues to grow for the race, an at-large scholarship may be offered. The idea came from inquiries from parents at Heritage's annual Aubrae Gunderson Cross Country Invitational held in September.

"A lot of people will come up and ask me about how do their kids become eligible, that kind of thing, and that got my wife and I thinking that will be the next step; to have one at-large scholarship to be available to anybody in the metro-Atlanta area," he said.

Registration will be open for the day of the run. Along with the 5K run that starts at 9 a.m., participants can walk the course, or enter the 1-mile fun race at 8:45 a.m. Again this year, the event will also have the "High Heel Hustle" at 10:30 a.m. -- a 40-yard sprint in heels at least 3 inches tall that is open to male and female runners 14 years old and older.

There will be a Cinderella fitting starting at 10 a.m. for those who want to join the Hustle but are short on heels.

The course for the 5K race starts at Heritage High School and traverses through the nearby Lochinver neighborhood. The race finishes the final quarter mile around the track at Evans Memorial Stadium.

For more information, contact Gunderson at 770-853-7533, or go to www.aubraegunderson.com.