Richmond runs to support city’s college-bound students

Richmond runs to support city's college-bound students
Runners enjoy the scenic waterfront during the inaugural Richmond Promise 5K Fun Run on Saturday, June 11, 2020.

The Richmond waterfront was the place to be on Saturday with perfect weather and two fun community events: The innaugural Richmond Promise 5K Fun Run, which began and ended at Craneway Pavilion and spanned the city’s scenic coastline, as well as “Ferry Fest,” a free festival at the Richmond ferry terminal featuring ferry tours, live music, games, arts and crafts, local eateries and booths occupied by a number of local organizations.

The Richmond Promise 5K Fun Run kicked off at the relatively cool hour of 8 a.m. The race featured about 150 registrants, a respectable number for a first ever annual event. The Fun Run, which featured stunning Bay views and crossed a number of Richmond’s historic sites, benefited the Richmond Promise, an organization that aims to build a college graduating culture in Richmond through scholarships, resources and guidance available to all graduating high school seniors from Richmond and North Richmond. The program is made possible via a 10-year, $35 million investment from Chevron Richmond.

“We are here to celebrate our scholars,” said Christopher Whitmore, executive director of the Richmond Promise. “We have over 1,900 Richmond Promise Scholars attending 220 colleges and universities throughout the United States. We are here to support them, raise money for them, and let them know how much the community supsports the pursuit of higher education and their degrees and certificates.”

Richmond Promise Executive Director Christopher Whitmore and Chevron Richmond Public Affairs Manager Linsi Crain.

Linsi Crain, public affairs manager for Chevron Richmond, noted the excitement surrounding the innaugural race. “Everyone should come out again next year,” she said.

Crain’s sentiments were shared by runners and walkers from Richmond and beyond. Participants offered a wide variety of reasons for wanting to participate Saturday, but all shared the common goal of supporting local students.

Teresa Morgan, a Vallejo teacher who residents in El Cerrito, attended the Fun Run with family to cheer on her daughter, who was celebrating her birthday.

“I think it’s well organized,a nd I think it’s wonderful to have in Richmond, to bring people out,” Morgan said. “There’s lots of families and kids here, lots of laughter.”

Keith Reynolds, of Richmond, said he’s dropped 65 pounds in less than a year and chose to run Saturday to continue progress in his health. Reynolds planned to participate again next year.

Richmond residents Marvinette Johnson and Lee Lemon say they try to sign up for a race one per month. They aim to choose events that benefit the area and local organizations.

Richmond residents Marvinette Johnson (left) and Lee Lemon.

“It’s really cool, I had a lot of fun,” said Tony Martinez, of Richmond, who took first place overall in the inaugural Fun Run. “I know [Jessie Stewart], who used to work for the Richmond Promise. She’s the one that got us out here and motivated. It was really cool just to be part of this.”

Kimberly Sanchez, the first women’s finisher, added, “I’m very proud to be here. I live around the corner, and it’s amazing to be able to support a local program.”

John Iwawaki, STEM instructional specialist at the West Contra Costa Unified School District, had personal reasons to participate. Many of his students are Richmond Promise scholars, and so is his son Judah, who also ran the race.

“We’re grateful and want to support,” Iwawaki said.

John Iwawaki, STEM instructional specialist at WCCUSD, and his son Judah, a Richmond Promise scholar.

Maribel Rodriguez, development director for the Richmond Promise and event organizer, said the event was particularly refreshing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that especially impacted local students.

“It’s really nice to have people out here, be safe, get some fresh air, enjoy their families and support the Richmond Promise,” Rodriguez said.

When all of the walkers and runners finished, they had the option of traveling just a few more steps over to Ferry Fest, a free outdoor festival. Hundreds of people, including families with children, lined up for ferry tours, played game, fetched lunch at local food trucks and visited booths hosted by organizations such as CoBiz Richmond, the SS Red Oak Victory, Rosie the Riveter Trust and more. 

Ferry Fest was sponsored by the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the regional public agency that operates San Francisco Bay Ferry, in partnership with the Craneway Pavilion, Richmond Promise and Columbia Sportswear.

Tom Hall, spokesperson for San Francisco Bay Ferry, said Ferry Fest was held in Richmond in part to celebrate the recent return of ferry service in the city, as well as the ramp up of service in the wake of the pandemic.

“For the first time we have seven day a week ferry service out of the Richmond, we just about doubled the amount of week service we had in our pandemic recovery program, and we slashed fares,” Hall said. “Richmond fares went down the lowest, it’s just $4.50 each way for an adult, with Clipper or mobile ticket.”

Ferry Fest was also about celebrating community, Hall said.

“This is such a rich community in terms of culture, community and community activism,” he said, adding, “It should never be the case that a kid lives close to the shoreline of the Bay and is never on a boat in their life. And for too many kids that is the case.”

Richmond Promise 5K Fun Run

Richmond runs to support city's college-bound students

Ferry Fest