As the sun rose, human piñatas emerged, a giant arch was constructed, and throngs of the faithful began converging on a town square where the wreckage of Noah’s Ark once stood. Was it some sort of ritual? A religious ceremony? Depending on your perspective, the answer to those questions could be yes …
So what was really happening on Saturday, March 26th at Streets of St. Charles? It was the Third Annual Honduran Street Party Run! And if you’re wondering, all of the things I mentioned above did happen. Allow me to explain.
Three years ago, after many years of supporting Timmy’s Mountain, a local organization which feeds and educates children in a small mountain village in Honduras, an idea percolated. Could we create another fundraising opportunity that would be great fun, bring a new audience together, and be a memorable experience that the audience would want to take part in year after year? My husband, a runner and triathlete, approached the board with a proposal to put on a 5k / 10k run in a completely different atmosphere than other runs in the area. Our goals were to:
- Identify a location and a map out a run course that would bring a new experience to area runners.
- Develop a memorable brand that built upon that location, experience, and all supporting events and details.
- Forge partnerships with all stakeholders who would see the value of the event and work with us to help make it wildly successful
Our first order of business – where to have the race. An obvious location quickly became apparent. Streets of St. Charles, arguably the most vibrant new development in our region, agreed to serve as home base. The restaurants and tenants also got on board, and were eager to participate.
Next came the brand. Because we were working to support a Honduran charity, and Streets was now our home, what better way to tie it all together than to position it as a Street Party! Street Parties are great celebrations in Latin American culture, and we had the perfect venue to deliver that, so the Honduran Street Party Run was born. What else would build upon that brand? Pinatas! But we didn’t deliver just any piñatas – we have real life human piñatas who run the race! Anyone who beats the piñatas gets a special prize in addition to the great swag everyone gets each year. This year, we heard from many people whose main goal in the race was to beat the piñata!
And finally, we couldn’t do it without the partnerships we’ve created – with the City, Streets of St Charles and the tenants, Timmy’s Mountain, loyal sponsors, and running and triathlon groups throughout the region. With their help, here’s what we’ve been able to do:
- Grow the event from 350 runners the first year (2014) to nearly 600 runners in 2016.
- Attract people from all over the world who have participated. Our overall winner in 2014 came all the way from Australia!
- Raise nearly $65,000 to feed and educate children in Honduras.
- Increase awareness for the organization, and introduce it to a new audience of people.
- Welcome repeat runners back year after year.
There were many highlights that stand out in my mind as I reflect upon the 2016 Street Part Run. These include:
- Seeing a 90-year old run our 5k race for the third time this year. She’s run every year, and we’re planning to create a new 90+ age group award just for her.
- Watching runners come to the event in Street Party Run t-shirts from previous years.
- Watching as runners set their sights on the piñatas, and really kicked it into high gear to try and beat them.
- Giving overall and age group awards to runners who I know have been there every year.
- Experiencing the crowd having a great time, loving the medals and swag.
- Hearing them say “I’ll be back next year”.
Many thanks to the committee who made this event possible, Streets of St. Charles who welcome this crazy party every year, all of our sponsors and volunteers, our friend Mike Elam (the voice of St. Charles) for lending his time and talent as MC, our friend Dan Gray from Fox 2 who kicked off the race and announced all the award winners, and to my team at Kolbeco for the many hours each person here put into the branding and promotion of the event. We’ll rest for a few weeks, then it’s on to 2017!