Contrary to reports last year, Race for the Cure will take place in the Memphis area again this fall. The event, which raises money for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, is scheduled for Saturday, Octrober 20th, at the shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown.
Last year, the crew organizing the Memphis race announced that it would not take place in 2001 because the enormous number of participants had become too much for the volunteer group to handle. After a substantial, though undisclosed financial commitment from Kroger Delta Marketing Area, the group announced earlier this year the race would occur after all.
"We are pleased to announce that Kroger Delta Marketing Area has joined our efforts by bringing to the table a huge commitment to be not only our local presenting sponsor for the Race but also partnering with our affiliate's year-round efforts to educate the community on breast-health issues," says Nicole Roleson, the Memphis-area president of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in a press release.
Roleson later told the Flyer that Kroger, the presenting sponsor for the Komen race in Little Rock, approached the Memphis organizers and offered to sponsor here, too.
Last year the race drew 13,207 participants, its largest number ever, and raised $501,709 to donate to local and regional organizations and individuals. Roleson says that already her organization has received many registration forms for this year's event.
Despite the large number of participants and money raised in last year's event, controversy surrounded the race when men were not allowed to run the course. Volunteer opportunities for men were limited to the Ko-Men group, where they could help by manning trables and booths and giving water to runners.
Many men and women took issue with this limitation, saying that not only could men contract breast cancer but that they also suffered when the women in their lives contracted the disease.
Local race organizers defended the decision to exclude men from the race itself by saying that it was a day for women to come together and that it was important that female runners, who typically run slower times than males, cross the finish line first.
This year Memphis organizers agreed to allow men to run separately from the women. The men's race will begin at 7 a.m. and will last approximately 45 minutes. Afterwards, the course will be cleared and a new finish line will be strung before the women's race begins at 8 a.m.
"We took a look at who participates in other cities and realized that only three other [Komen] races in the country didn't include men," says Roleson. "I think that everyone will understand why we decided to have the men's race and have it separate from the women's race. So far we've had an overwhelmingly positive response from men."
There are 112 Komen affiliate races across the country, and this will be the first time in the Memphis race's eight-year history that men are allowed to run.
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