Soggy grass, slippery pavement and thick, hovering rain clouds didn’t have a chance at deterring 2,100-plus participants who crowded around Stewart Park in Roseburg Saturday morning for the Umpqua Strong 9k and 5k road race.
Racers gathered in groups before the race, offering hugs, exchanging laughter or somber tears, as they prepared to run or walk the there-and-back course set up in the heart of Roseburg along the South Umpqua River.
As music poured out of the event’s loudspeakers and the race’s emcee slowly gathered participants around the main stage, Kim Dileo, of Riddle, was toward the back adjusting her headphones before the run.
A close friend to Treven Anspach’s mother, Dileo said she expected the race to be emotional.
“Treven was the son of a friend of mine, so it touches me a little closer to home than maybe some other people who are here to support the community,” she said. “He’s just such a great kid, so I’m out here to celebrate his life, but to also support my friend, her family, and everyone else in the community.”
Dressed in a black shirt with “Team Anspach” printed in white lettering, Dileo was speechless when she saw all of the people who showed up to race, volunteer or simply cheer on participants.
“It’s so powerful and moving,” she said. “There are supposed to be runners from Alaska and across the country joining us today and for such a small community to have such a big impact on the world, it’s just heartwarming.”
In all, the race gathered 2,154 registered runners or walkers and 85 “remote runners,” who participated in their own races in 15 states including Maryland, Hawaii, Alaska and Connecticut. It also raised more than $60,000 that will be contributed to the UCC Foundation where the money will go toward funding 10 scholarship programs in the names of the shooting’s victims and survivors.
Runner Benjamin Rodriguez, 20, crossed the finish line first, wearing a Lane Community College cross country jersey.
Rodriguez, a freshman at LCC in Eugene who was born and raised in Roseburg, said he wanted to run and show his support for the community.
“I just thought of everyone out here, how they’ve persevered and shown support of one another, and been able to build up this community even through a tragic event,” he said.
Rodriguez’s girlfriend was on campus during the shooting last year, but because of the lockdown, his calls to her wouldn’t go through.
“I called her maybe six times, but since she was in lockdown, I didn’t hear from her for two to three hours, so I was very concerned,” he said.
After the race, he met up with his girlfriend under a grouping of towering fir trees separated from the stage as she buried her face into his shoulder, tears streaming down her face.