This weekend’s 5k and 10k races during the Red Rock Balloon Festival were a very successful collaborative effort between two of the areas most successful cross country programs.
Knoxville and Pella High teamed up to put on the event in hopes of drawing roughly 100 runners and raising $4,000 to split evenly between the two programs. Instead, 198 people showed up to run and over $7,000 will be halved between the Panthers and Dutch. The specifics on what to do with the proceeds have not been determined yet, but Pella High assistant cross country coach Mike Buchheit says early discussions have centered around race-day warm-ups and uniforms; along with equipment to help prevent injuries and a tent to shield runners from the weather on race days. There’s even been thought given to creating a running scholarship.
Fittingly, the overall winners of the 10k and 5k races were each standouts for the Knoxville and Pella High cross country teams this season, as Knoxville’s Wick Cunningham took the 5k in a time of 17:26; while Zach Buchheit of Pella ran the 10k course in 36:12. Sarah Rhoten of Pella was the top female finisher in the 10k, with 13-year-old Kelcey Blommers of Pella finishing with the fastest time for a female in the 5k.
Along with the runners, 20 sponsors and 45 volunteers helped make the collaborative event a huge success for the Knoxville and Pella High cross country programs’ “FUNdraiser”.