A mass of bodies, wearing bright orange t-shirts, lines up outside the OHRS building. With the sound of the starting gun the people begins to move. This race, in comparison to others doesn’t begin with your usual lunge to take the lead, and heavy breathing competitiveness between runners. This race is meant to be one run together.
This year marks the beginning of the third annual Marina’s Miles race. The 5k that replaced Todd’s Trot is held in honor of Marina Slavin, an Oyster River graduate who passed away at the age of 20. Marina was a loved member of the community who, apart from running, cared about the people and the Durham community. In commemoration of what she brought to the people of Oyster River, the event focuses to promote similar qualities in teamsmanship, community, and selflessness.
The event will be held Saturday, April 6th, with the 5k beginning at 10 am. Runners must arrive by 8:30 at the latest, and walk-ons are accepted. For those interested in running, the cost is $30, however, if you choose to run in either a costume or pajamas, the cost will be halved. The event will be held at Oyster River High School, and the race will start directly in front of the school building. The track begins by looping around Canney Farms back to the High School, before winding around the middle school to finish in the back parking lot of ORHS.
Apart from the event itself, the coordination and planning of the 5k has brought the community together. Maura Slavin, Marina’s mother and event coordinator, expressed how much the business side of Durham has done to add to the race. “This year, Wildcat Fitness has done a lot to promote the race in the community of Durham, and at the beginning of next week, a lot of business owners will be wearing Marina’s Miles t-shirts.” She laughed, continuing, “anywhere you go in Durham, there will be Marina’s Miles t-shirts all over the place.”
Slavin noted that, “just the organization of the race takes so many people and takes so much generosity on the people who donate time or money.” She explained that she didn’t know many of the people that organized the event, and many of them didn’t know Marina, but they just want to help pull the community together with an event like this.
Slavin maintained that the 5k wasn’t about the money or even the race itself, it was about remembering Marina: “I think it’s really meaningful for a lot of people who knew her, to come together once a year to celebrate her and think about her,” she said.
The race and the people at the race really strive to follow in Marina’s footsteps. In comparison to other races, people can compete but most choose to run for fun with friends. Amelia Concannon, (‘19) an Oyster River Track and Field athlete, explained, “I run Marina’s Miles because I think it is a great way to remember someone very important. It’s also a just good way to get out and enjoy running with family and friends.”
Slavin touched on the event’s ability to bring people together. “[Runners] whose abilities aren’t the same do it together since Marina was more about people than winning. Last year, a man came to push his cousin in a wheelchair just so his cousin could participate and be involved in something.”
This year’s event brings more to the community apart from the race. Food, music, and raffled prizes are available to those that come, and as a result of the donations from the race, a scholarship will be given to a graduating senior who exemplifies Marina’s ideals. Slavin stressed that everyone is welcome. “You don’t have to be a runner. You can come and walk or just enjoy the event.”
Concannon, who will be running this year said, “it’s a good way to bring the community together by seeing people of all different ages having fun and enjoying themselves. It’s just good to bring a lot of different people together for a good cause.”
– Quinn Wilson
Photos Courtesy of marinasmiles.org