Hundreds of runners gathered outside Meg O’Mally’s Irish pub in Downtown Melbourne on Oct. 24, setting a record for the number of participants in Florida Tech’s homecoming 5k.
“We’ve been doing this area, Downtown Melbourne, since 2012,” said Stephanie Bacon, the race director. “I am proud to say that we are going to have probably over 600 runners, which represents the largest race we’ve ever had.”
The route of the race ran through Downtown Melbourne with several turnarounds to minimize the blocked off area.
Bacon said the route has stayed the same through the years, with runners beginning at Waverly Place, moving down Melbourne Avenue, Bignonia Avenue, and them coming back to Waverly.
While a look at Florida Tech’s admission data shows that undergraduate admissions have steadily increased year by year, this does not necessarily mean that student participation has increased overall as the race remains open to the public.
Many non-students and faculty members also participated in the race. Ryan Schwieterman, a non-student participant, said he ran for his team, and that he expected to be exhausted afterward.
Team competitions, although informal, account for some of the increase in participation.
Yet, much of the 5k’s participation comes from members of Brevard County.
“I came here to win,” said Grant Poirier, a Florida Tech student and experienced runner. “I am going to win first 100 place.”
Poirier said he has been running since he could walk.
“Most of it was not of my own free will, but I learned to love it eventually,” Poirier said. “I’ve loved it and hated it for most of my life. Mostly hated it, but still loved it a little bit.”
Poirier went on to say that he ran for three years in middle school and one year in high school.
“After that one year in high school, I realized that running distance in high school was a terrible life decision,” Poirier said. “So I re-evaluated my life and played golf.”
While Poirier has an “unusual” liking for running, others were spotted crossing the finish line with smiles due to personal bests, or looks of fatigue, celebratory highfives with friends, teammates, professors and more.
If anything, Florida Tech’s homecoming 5k showcased all levels of runners, various types of participants, but all united for one fun event.