MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- As soon as the rain began to fall, the kids began to get excited. "Are we going to run in the rain," they kept asking Kandy Gerichten, Physical Education teacher for Swansboro Middle School.
Forty-five middle school students from the school's "Stars" running program stormed off the bus and began talking, laughing and giggling in the downpour that only a few minutes before had threatened their dash around Camp Lejeune.
The Marine Corps Community Services office sponsored a five-kilometer run Oct. 1 to raise funds and awareness for the Combined Federal Campaign contribution season that began Sept. 1.
The run started at 8:30 a.m. behind the Goettge Field House and included over 750 individual contributing runners and five groups. Participants could run or walk the course, which looped around the base along Julian C. Smith Road and finished back at the field house.
"This year's course was different than last year's, but I think it was easier to plan for," said Capt. Demetry P. Spiropoulos, course planner and logistics chief for the race.
The Semper Fit Mobile Fitness Unit started the day off with a music-backed stretching routine that prepared the athletes for the run.
Five groups, dressed in Marine Corps green-on-green physical training gear, formed up and followed the energetic Semper Fit trainers in a daily seven that included stretching and calisthenics.
The race itself had a mix of Marines, spouses, children and civilians out in the rain to complete the "fun run", and while the course route was already set, the rules for completing the course were up to the individual athletes.
"We have a variety of people who came out here. We have people on skateboards and rollerblades, and women who ran behind strollers with babies in them," said Cathy Simonoff, special projects coordinator for MCCS.
MCCS has been putting flyers up for a month trying to get the word out about the race, but registration continued until race time. Registration for the race was $10, and the first 1,200 paying participants received a commemorative t-shirt. Units of twenty or more were free, but only paid athletes received a t-shirt.
The race raised $5,000 for the CFC, adding to almost $40,000 the CFC had already risen. The goal for this year is $750,000. Last year the CFC raised over $500,000 during the contribution season.
Last year over 1,600 people ran in the fun run, and it proved to be a good way to kick off the contribution season.
"The fun run is a great way to raise awareness for the CFC, people really seem to like it and it raises a good amount of money," said Simonoff.