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Farmers 5K 2017 BD62C9B171B04C159B7D77C6257F34C5THE FARMERS 5000 IS SEPT. 16 AT WHEAT RIDGE HIGH SCHOOL. Last year’s race netted approximately $20,000 for the school’s clubs, activities, sports and groups and attracted nearly 500 runners and walkers in the 5K and 100 kids in the 1K Fun Run. PHOTO BY LUCA DELPICCOLO, RIGHT START RACE MANAGEMENTBy Sydney Ayers

The Farmers 5000 returns for its 37th year at 9 a.m. on Sept. 16 at Wheat Ridge High School. Last year’s race, which netted approximately $20,000 for the school’s clubs, activities, sports and groups, saw nearly 500 runners and walkers in the 5K including Wheat Ridge resident and race regular Betty Willis, 89. Another 100 kids competed in the 1K Fun Run.

“The Farmers 5000 has such a great history of bringing together people of all ages for a fun, family friendly community event!” said Pam Heiny, the school’s registrar and a member of the Farmers 5000 Planning Committee for almost 20 years. “And if a participant wants to support a specific group, club, activity or sport within the school, it’s easy for them to designate which one just by selecting it from a drop-down menu on the entry form.”

Returning for the second year is the renamed Fitness Challenge where the winning company, group, family or local club will be deemed “Fittest on the Farm” by having the most entries to its name. Fabulous prizes from area businesses and major bragging rights are at stake. Also back is the “Elementary School Challenge” in which feeder elementary schools vie for a $500 scholarship and books for their schools donated by the Wheat Ridge Optimists.

“Everyone can get involved,” said Heiny. “Our local elementary schools compete hoping to win a scholarship for their school. High school students participate via running, fundraising, volunteering and cheering. And our community runners support us by returning year after year to race, coming from all over Wheat Ridge, the surrounding suburbs and the Denver metro area. Last year we even had a runner travel here from Sevilla, Mexico!”

Area businesses also come out to support the event. Long-time sponsors such as Applewood Plumbing, City of Wheat Ridge, DECA, Speaks Orthodontics and the Wheat Ridge Community Foundation have been joined by recent sponsors like Lutheran Medical Center, Red Chair Realty, OE Construction, Swagelok, OrangeTheory Fitness, Rubio’s and Feed Your Soul Fitness to cover event management expenses so that all entry fees can go back to the school. Plus, neighborhood favorite restaurants AppleRidge Cafe and Abrucsi’s Fire and Wine provide prizes and post-race food.

“We feel like we capture the true Farmer spirit with all we offer including hay rides for kids and a live cow roaming the soccer field. It is very much an enjoyable morning for the entire family!” Heiny added.

The Farmers 5000 is managed by Right Start Race Management. Registration is now open at rightstartevents.com or farmers5000.org.

Editor’s note: The current course record and fastest-ever Farmers 5000 time remains unbeaten at 15:19, set in 2013 by Dewi Griffiths.

Sydney Ayers is with Right Start Race Management.