The morning of Oct. 14 did not do much justice for area runners looking to compete in St. George School’s annual Spooky Sprint 5K Walk/Run.
Thunder rolled in and the rain fell prior to the race’s start, but it did not discourage participants from hitting the racecourse.
“Every year, we try to add a little bit more to make it more known, so that the community can come out more and recognize our school,” said Gloria Hollendoner, a St. George School parent and race organizer.
That “little bit more” took form in featuring music, raffles and entertainment for children. Patrons were also encouraged bring canned food donations for Operation Care Package, a Manhattan, Illinois-based nonprofit that supports troops.
Ahead of the 9:30 a.m. race start time, runners were led in prayer and the national anthem. The 3.1-mile race took runners on a path through some of Tinley Park’s neighborhoods.
St. George School eighth-grader Jimmy Arnetz topped this year’s Spooky Sprint just moments ahead of the second-place finisher, Ian Tongco.
“It felt good,” Arnetz said of his win. “It felt good throughout the whole thing.”
Stepping into the Spooky Sprint, Arnetz shared that he came in with only one goal in mind—to win it all.
“I ran it last year and took eighth, I think,” he said.
Aside from the Spooky Sprint following the Halloween spirit, funds raised from the event will support St. George students’ learning.
“Anything that the school may need for funding is what we’re promoting to help them in any way or [with] whatever is needed,” Hollendoner said, noting students are now in the process of getting Chromebooks and other technology supplies.
By the race’s conclusion, awards were given to participants in each category. In addition, a winner was crowned for the costume contest.
Tinley Park couple Tim and Ginger Jager were just two of the many runners who were excited to tackle the 5K.
“I think this [race] gets people out here who don’t maybe go to church or don’t have kids going to school here,” Ginger said. “It gets the community a little more involved in the school.”
Tim and Ginger are parents of three, who attend St. George.
“I volunteer, and we’ve done the race every year they’ve had it,” Ginger said, adding this family-friendly event is special. “We live really close, so it’s nice to run in the neighborhood that we live.”
Ginger also noted she is using the race as a platform to encourage her daughter to love running as much as she does.
“I’m running with my daughter, so I’m going to try to get her going,” she said. “We did it last year. I’m trying to go a little faster this year.
As for Tongco—who snagged second—he said he is pleased with his performance.
“The last Spooky Sprint I was in the first 20, but this time was my first time [performing so well,]” he said, adding he is more than happy he decided to run and compete again.
He shared this time around, he ran with intention. Tongco kept someone in mind, as he made his way around the course.
“This is my first [5K] this year,” Tongco said. “I wanted to make my mom proud because she’s watching right now, and I wanted to make myself really proud of myself.
“My mom works nights every other day… My mom’s worked so hard for me from pre-school to eighth-grade. I feel like I [owe it to her] because she’s worked so hard for me.”