The Pray Hope Believe 5K is held every July 4th in memory of Tony Merk. Tony was a six-year-old boy who died of brain cancer on July 4, 2011. It’s a large event with over 600 runners and 500 walkers this year. One nice touch was a separate start time for the walkers, allowing the runners to clear the area before the walkers set out. Overall, it was a decent 5K with an important charitable cause.
The course is mostly rolling hills with no major climbs. The race starts with a quick downhill stretch then runs flat until about the half a mile point where the first upslope starts to spread out the pack. After that, you just have small rollers until right before the three-mile mark. At that point, the course turns back on to Springdale Road for a short, but steeper climb before finishing with a half lap around the Colerain Township Community Center parking. In spite of the few hills, it’s a fairly quick course. Eighteen of the 621 runners finishing under twenty minutes.
There were two water stops, one at Mile 1 and one at Mile 2—though you actually pass the second water stop twice, the first time at 1.25 miles, should you miss the 1 Mile stop. Additionally, there are many residents along the course who set up refreshments (mimosas anybody?) and lawn sprinklers—a nice bonus during a hot summer run. Crowd support was pretty good, for a small community 5K, especially at the finish line. The announcer talked almost non-stop as the racers came into the finish area. Kudos to him.
After the race, there are a few vendors, including a snow cone vendor. Other activities included a basket raffle, split-the-pot, and a free kids run for younger kids.
The overall male and female winners and top three male and female finishers in each age group receive medals. There are no finisher medals at this race, though. Age groups are ten-year spreads. For a race this size, I would have expected five year spreads, but the race was only $20.
Swag includes a cotton t-shirt (you can upgrade to a tech shirt for an additional $10), goodie bag with typical marketing swag, and free refreshments, including a hamburger after the race.