Hapi-ness 5k

Runners take off at the start of the 2016 Hapi-ness 5K.

One of Laramie’s long-running races is set to return this spring after a virtual staging last year.

The Hapi-ness 5K is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 8 at Laramie Middle School, 1355 N. 22nd St. Race-day registration opens at 8 a.m., and the cost is $25 for adults and $20 for runners 18 and younger.

“A lot of people are pretty pumped to actually have an event to go to,” said Travis Miller, the faculty advisor for the middle school’s student leadership team, which is organizing the event.

Now in its 36th year, the Hapi-ness 5K is one Laramie’s largest running events. It was first held in 1987 in support of Hapi Patterson, a ninth-grader during the 1986-87 academic year. She had been diagnosed with leukemia that fall and had been in and out of school because of her medical treatments.

Several students on the cross-country team approached their coach asking if they could organize a 5K that spring to raise money for Patterson and her family.

That first year, almost 90 runners lined up at the starting line and organizers ran out of T-shirts. Following that success, they kept the tradition going, finding different families in the junior high community to support through devastating illnesses.

The spirit of friendship and community that inspired the original race continues today, with students doing most of the heavy lifting.

“They’re fully responsible for every decision and all the ins and outs,” Miller said of the student leadership team. “They’ve been calling businesses like crazy asking for donations and sponsorships. They’re doing awesome.”

This year, the team decided to spread the race proceeds out among several families facing a variety of medical challenges.

“They wanted to broaden the scope of what the 5K has been in past and affect more families in a positive way,” Miller said.

The race course, which has been tweaked during the last couple editions, is set to start on Reynolds Street on the north side of the school. Runners and walkers will proceed to Harney Street and back to the middle school before weaving through nearby Scout Park.

“It’ll be a little different than in years past, but it makes it nice to keep it as close as we can to the middle school,” Miller said.

As per tradition, a student is designing this year’s T-shirt, which generally features a rainbow motif. Miller said the student body was set to vote on the final design this week.

He said excitement is building as students anticipate the return of an in-person event that brings the community together.

“They can feel how it will be to have a big event,” he said.

Participants should be mindful of masks and social distancing during pre-race and post-race festivities. Dogs on leashes are welcome. Call 721-4430 for more information.

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