Harper Alumni and Friends host Virtual 5K

The third Harper Alumni and Friends Virtual 5K ran through the end of October and encouraged Harper alumni, staff, and students to get active while raising money for student scholarships.


There were several Virtual 5K activities scheduled throughout the month on the Harper campus, the first of which took place on October 10th in the Health and Recreation Center. Jim Inman, a Harper distinguished alumnus and former co-owner of Elite Fitness, a workout and training facility based in Arlington Heights, presented “Run Smarter, Not Harder.” The hour long presentation covered many different aspects of running, and also acknowledged some common mistakes runners make as well. Inman has competed in 19 marathons and 4 Ironman triathlons over the years.


Around 10 people attended the event, including Shannon Hynes, the director of the Harper College Alumni Program which runs the Virtual 5K. 


“The Virtual 5K came about when the college was doing the 50th anniversary celebration, and then the idea originated to do a virtual event,” Hynes said. “Our executive director Laura Brown suggested we do a Virtual 5K run to get alumni involved both locally and across the country.”


According to Hynes, there were between 30 and 35 participants in each of the two previous Virtual 5K’s, a handful of which were students. This year the goal was for at least 40 people to participate by the end of the month. Ultimately, 27 people registered and ran their virtual 5K this October.


After registering on the alumni page on the Harper website and making a payment of $25, all of which went towards student scholarships, participants could complete their virtual 5K however, wherever, and whenever they would like. Registrants could run, jog, walk, or bike their miles at any point before the end of October, and it could be done on or off the Harper campus. Each entrant received a race bib number which could be downloaded and printed online, as well as a Virtual 5K drawstring backpack to commemorate the event.


Each attendee at the kickoff event had their own reasons and motives behind participating in the Virtual 5K. 


Amy Desautels, who works in the Harper Educational Foundation office with Hynes, said that she is all about jumping in and volunteering wherever, but also wanted to get some exercise. Her husband Brian who was also in attendance stated that he likes to do a bit of running to help lose weight.


One of the first time participants in the event was Darren Shu, who brought his son David along to the event. “I like to get him involved in different races in the community,” Shu said.


Participants were encouraged to share photos of their 5K run or walk on social media, as there are several small prizes that will be awarded in the coming weeks for contests such as “most interesting photo” and “most unique race location.” Over the years participants have completed their Virtual 5K in a variety of different places.


“We had one person walk it in Vegas last year,”  Hynes said. “We had one person bike it in Florida, we had one person in Arizona. Some of these people are local but have traveled to unique locations and some of these people live in those locations. It’s been a really fun way to engage them and then to share their pictures on social media if they’ve done something really fun.”