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Ringing in the Spring rang in again on a sunny and brisk Saturday morning at the Valparaiso YMCA. The race is a 5K and 10K and it is held each year to benefit the YMCA and its fitness programs. Around 1,700 people joined in this year from all over Northwest Indiana to participate in the annual event.
"We're the second largest race in the area, and the amount of people that come every year is great." said Mike Jones, Director of the race for this year and every year since the beginning.
He said that what brings so many people to run in this particular race is what they provide for the participants.
"We provide to everyone's needs that come and run with us, and that's one of the things that makes us so popular," Jones said.
That couldn't have been truer. Straight off the finish line there was tons of water, granola bars, apple, oranges, bananas, and other snacks to hydrate and keep runners satisfied.
Not only was there food for the runners, there were also local businesses to cater to other needs. The sponsors that supported the race were as follows: The Hungry Inc. Food Truck, Calumet Striders, Inov 8, Extra Mile, Methodist Hospitals, the National Guard and Golden Tech. They all set up tents to provide the runners with information or items they might need while checking their place in the race.
Renee Devaney of Golden Tech set up shop to support the YMCA and said, "We have a great relationship with Valparaiso's YMCA and we represented our company today in response to that."
Distances in the race were split between a 5K, 10K, and a 5K prediction walk. The runners had the option of running or walking, and doing so individually or with a team. They were also allowed to switch course at mile 2.8 into a 10K if desired. All of the runners were divided into age groups from 6 up to 80 or older and the winners of each division collected a silver and blue accented medal for their hard work. Above those winners was a plaque for overall female and male winners for the 5K and 10K course. Racheal Marchand who was the overall female winner for the 5K said that even though she's ran in Ringing in the Spring, and won a the bell five times in the past, it's something she looks forward to each year.
"I definitely look forward to this race because it kicks off my running every year and I use it as a gauge on how I'll do at other races in the future. It's a great way to get my butt back in shape," Marchand said.
Ringing in the Spring celebrated its 20th year on Saturday, and if that's not enough of a feat there are runners that have been coming back each year since its start in 1995. Wanda Melion is one of the dedicated people who have come back for over a decade, but the race is more special to her than most.
"My husband and I got married here," she exclaimed, "We ran in the race 13 years ago and got married after we crossed the finish line. I had a veil, he had a tuxedo shirt on, and the minister ran with us. We met running a race and that seemed like the perfect place to do it. Every year since then we've come back to Ringing in the Spring."
Sadly this year, though, she brought her family to celebrate for a different reason. Her son Timothy M. Johns was a SPCO in the Navy who died just under a year ago in California and the Melion family ran in Ringing in the Spring to celebrate his memory.
"We're running under team Timmy today," she said, "It's something we coordinated along with a lot of other events to do for him and keep his flag out there."
Another year of Ringing in the Spring has rung to its end, but there is the future to look forward to. So next year runners will there be multi-colored tutus, monkey hats and neon tennis shoes running down and back to the Valpo YMCA. Here's to another 20 years of Ringing in the Spring!