Run to Read road race ready for 24th running

·3 min read

Jul. 22—FAIRMONT — Next week, the streets of west Fairmont will be filled with runners who support literacy in Marion County.

Twice a year, runners from near and far gather in Fairmont for the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County's two biggest fundraisers, the Run to Read 5/10K and the Run to Read half-marathon. The Friday, July 29 race will be the 24th installment of the 5/10K fundraiser.

"The basis of our organization is donations, and we are a funded partner of the United Way. These donations keep books in the hands of kids," said Susan May, executive director of the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County. "This just enables us to grow and do more to fight illiteracy in Marion County."

The race costs $30 to sign up and all proceeds go toward the Literacy Volunteers and their work in the county. The organization is all volunteer and help not only with one-on-one tutoring with students, but also help adults who are struggling with high school equivalency exams.

The 5/10K and the winter half-marathon are the two major fundraising events put on by LVMC. The winter race has been cited as the source of one-fourth of the nonprofit's budget, with the 5/10K coming in just behind that.

The last few years, COVID-19 has put a damper on the events. Last year, the summer event bounced back from 2020, but the organizers are still vying to be back at pre-pandemic levels.

Mark Sutyak, an LVMC board member and race director for both events said that pre-registration for this year is turning out to be higher than last, but the public is still hesitant to preregister because of past cancellations.

"Something we do may never change, COVID or not. Hand sanitizer at the water stops, individually packaged food, things like that. Being a 100 percent outdoor event, masks haven't really been a concern either," Sutyak said.

Race day is always an exciting time for Sutyak, because he gets to see not just the organization of the event come together, but as a board member he gets to see the fruits of his labor firsthand.

"I have a unique perspective. I don't just show up on race day then leave once it's over then come back next year," he said. "I can see what's done with the funds and I can see just how important it is to the community."

Same-day registrations will be open on race day at the starting line at the 12th Street Pool.

This year's fundraiser is especially important because Susan May has some big plans for the volunteers. In the group's history, it's mainly focused on the city limits of Fairmont. May want's the group to live up to its name and really start to service all of Marion County as well as it serves Fairmont.

"That's one of the things we're trying to do, broaden out into the county more," May said. "Coming up, we'll be participating in Fairview's back-to-school event, just to have a presence outside of Fairmont."

May asks that even if members of the community aren't interested in participating in the race next week but want to support the fight against illiteracy, they can donate to the group online by going to www.learntoreadmarion.net.

To find more information about the Run to Read 5/10K, visit www.runtoread.org, or call 304-366-6055.

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.