Not even the chilly morning rain could dampen the spirits of nearly 1,200 runners who took to the puddle-ridden Madison streets Sunday morning for the 10th annual Canterbury 5K and 10K Run/Walk for Literacy.
Presented by Canterbury Booksellers Caf? and Inn, the event helped raise money and awareness in celebration of literacy. All proceeds went to the Madison Area Literacy Council.
An eclectic crowd of participants — ranging from recreational to elite runners — gathered at the starting line for the race.
Madison Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster was on hand to officially start the race, which looped around State Street and the Lakeshore Path to finish at the intersection of State and Broom. She stressed the importance of efforts such as the Canterbury Run/Walk in helping improve the lives of the 17,000 people in Dane Country who are illiterate.
“You are all making a difference by coming out and participating in this event,” she told the crowd before firing the starting gun.
Also present Sunday morning to lend her support and help oversee the event was Trudy Barash, owner of Canterbury Booksellers Caf? and Inn. Barash spoke fondly of the event, which came from an idea her husband had ten years ago to host a race event for the community.
“We thought literacy would be a logical connection. It’s so sad that there are adults who can’t read. … We thought it was a great and important cause to be associated with,” Barash said. “This race really represents a cross-section of Madison, and we just love the idea of people getting together for a splendid cause.”
A large number of UW students took part in the race, including repeat men’s 5K winner Sergio Palacios, a doctoral student in bacteriology. Palacios echoed Barash’s sentiments and cited parallels between the Canterbury race and his favorite races in his native Mexico.
“It’s a really nice course through the city,” Palacios said. “Plus, I’m a scientist, so I’m all about education!”
For Jim Reardon, a 10K finisher and post-doctoral student in physics, Sunday’s race marked his third year taking part in the event.
“This is a tradition — it’s the classic Madison race,” Reardon said. “Everyone’s here, and it unites my two favorite passions: running and reading.”
In addition to the race’s scenic route and the great camaraderie, participants arrived Sunday morning in anticipation of another bonus — free long-sleeved t-shirts, which have become somewhat legendary in the community and are collected by many. Emblazoned with the Canterbury logo, the shirts remain in demand long after the race has ended each year. Due to the increasing popularity of the race, as well as its notoriety in running magazines and among the running elite, the shirts have been spotted on people around the world, Barash said.
“I love to think of our shirt being worn in Stuttgart or Paris,” she said. “These shirts have taken on a life of their own.”
According to Gregory Markle, executive director of the Madison Area Literacy Council, the Canterbury Race usually generates about $20,000 each year. As the largest fundraiser for the Madison Area Literacy Council, the annual event has become an important part of Madison culture, evident in Sunday’s turnout and the high enthusiasm among participants.
“The people who run and participate show strong support and are linked to the cause,” Markle said. “Plus, we also have the coolest race t-shirts in town.”