Run, Roll and Sun 5K raises funds for Common Ground playground

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

In addition to raising funds for the Common Ground playground for disabled children, this year’s annual Run, Roll & Sun 5K on Saturday, May 30 honored Parks and Recreation Foundation employee Sheri Collins, who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

The Run, Roll & Sun 5K is an all-inclusive event that consists of both a timed 5K and a one-mile stroller and wheelchair-friendly course, followed by free admission to the municipal pool. Proceeds from participation fees go toward constructing a specialized playground called Common Ground that accommodates children of all abilities and encourages them to interact, according to the Mason Parks and Recreation Foundation.

It made sense to memorialize Collins’ death during this event because of the work she did for this project in her lifetime, according to Mason Community Center Wellness Supervisor Kelly Burchett.

“We thought it would be more than fitting if we honored (Collins) this year,” Burchett said. “The anniversary of her death was actually Monday and last year, her entire family came out, even though it was the weekend of her funeral, (to) support the event. Both the Parks Foundation and the City of Mason wanted to honor her and her family and all the work she did for the Parks Foundation.”

According to Collins’ mother, Donna Barker, the cause was very dear to her daughter’s heart.

“I worked in a special needs class,” Barker said. “I saw the disabilities and how they affected those children. We, as teachers, had to take the equipment out to the regular playground. It was very heavy (and) cumbersome…We know firsthand why this park should be built and Sheri did too; we discussed it quite a bit. It was her dream, so we (joined) her.”

Inspired by Collins’ efforts to construct an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, Barker said her and her husband were prompted to donate $5,000 to the Parks Foundation the day of the race.

“Her dad and I had discussed (donating the money), and we wanted to do something to honor Sheri’s life,” Barker said. “Ever since she came into the world, she was a selfless person. She was a peacemaker, she was an arbitrator, and she loved her fellow man.”

Barker said she believes that her daughter would be pleased with the turnout for such a great cause.

“We’re amazed that people would take the time and effort to come out,” Barker said. “It’s heartwarming. I know our child would be thrilled that we could come together for one purpose.”

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Originally posted on on June 1, 2015.


Mason cross country athletes overcome sickness and tough home course

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer


Photo by Sheila Raghavendran

The cross country team may have had runny noses all week, but that didn’t stop them from sprinting towards the finish line at the Mason Invitational on Saturday.

The Mason Invitational, which brought in 3,600 runners and 160 teams from the tri-state area, was held at Corwin-Nixon park on Saturday morning. Races started at 9 a.m. and continued throughout the morning and into the afternoon. High school runners raced a 5k (3.1-mile) course and middle school runners raced a 2-mile course. There was even a kids’ “fun run”.

According to girls cross country coach Chip Dobson, many of the runners were experiencing sicknesses throughout the week, making the race difficult.

“I think that a lot of the girls were under the weather, so they were just feeling pretty ragged,” Dobson said. “It’s hard to race hard when you’re taking Nyquil the day before.”

Junior Maegan Murphy, who was the first Mason finisher in the girls’ varsity race, experienced this sickness first hand.

“I was very sick on Monday,” Murphy said.  “I thought I had a fever. Then, towards the middle of the week, I had a nasty cough. I thought I was over it today, but then the cough came back in about the third mile.”

According to junior Justin Koehler, there were those on the team with injuries as well.

“We have a lot of people on the mend, so we were just trying to take it easy this week,” Koehler said.

According to senior Delaney McDowell, there’s a psychological aspect to it as well.

“It can be mental, too,” McDowell said. “Once you think you’re sick and not going to do well, you might not.”

The team, however, tried to push through the uncontrollable factors and race well together at the meet, according to McDowell.

“I think we tried to have a positive attitude throughout this week and some days, you just don’t have your best race but I think overall, we worked together well as a team,” McDowell said.

The course itself is a very difficult one, according to Murphy, whether you feel sick or not.

“It’s a very challenging course,” Murphy said. “You go out in a big field — very hot — for the first (kilometer), then you go through the woods, come back, then you run through more woods. Finally, you run down in a creek, up the mulch hill, cross another creek, and go back into the big field.”

Despite the challenging aspects, the team is always excited for the Mason Invitational, according to McDowell.

“We always look forward to this meet because there are so many people and it’s such a fun atmosphere,” McDowell said. “It’s so fun to be here on your home course and seeing a lot of people come out.”


Steep competition at cross country Culver invitational

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer


Photo by Abbey Marshall from the Mason Cross Country Invitational.

Mason runners faced tough competition through the selection process for the Culver Military Academy meet, according to varsity boys’ coach Tom Rapp.

“We had to evaluate throughout the season, especially towards the end,” Rapp said. “There’s a bit of a team battle when there’s over a 100 on your team, but also quite an honor to actually be selected to go.”

According to junior varsity runner Nick Grismer, the selection process isn’t just based off of good times; there are other factors incorporated into getting a coveted spot to race at Culver. Among these factors are consistency in races and practices as well as age.

Girls’ varsity runner Leah Ford said that competition is intense for anyone competing to go, but especially right at the cutoff.

“People on the bubble to make it always try really hard and when they don’t [make it], you can tell that they’re a little upset,” Ford said.

The rigorous competition for entry into the Culver Invitational provides an elite race that helps prepare runners for the State cross country race.

“[Culver] is an imitation of State,” Grismer said. “[Culver helps us] learn to race against great teams like Carmel, Indiana.”

Despite the disappointment associated with the tough competition that goes into the selection and the race itself, the coaches know best, according to Ford.

“We just have to look at the coaches to make the right decision because they usually know what’s best for the team,” Ford said.

Under pressure: cross country invitational pushes runners to potential

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

IMG_4181Runners compete at Saturday’s cross country invitational.

Racing against over 130 teams and 3,800 runners, the Mason Cross Country team faced high competition Saturday at the Mason Invitational.

Varsity runner Nick Grismer said that competition was tough because they were running against top-ranked schools.

“There’s definitely a lot of competition,” Grismer said. “A lot of these schools are second, third, and fourth in Kentucky and a lot of them are great schools in Ohio.”

Boys’ coach Tom Rapp said that despite the competition, Grismer was able to pull through and win the varsity boys’ race.

“There are a lot of bodies out there,” Rapp said. “You’ve got to get out there and make your moves and find your spot. It is a challenge but that’s part of the challenge of cross country.”

There were many obstacles facing the runners at the invitation, including a difficult course, injuries, and pressure to do the very best, according to Rapp.

“[The runners] put pressure on themselves, but they work so hard and they want so badly to win,” Rapp said. “They really want to win this meet.”

Girls’ coach Chip Dobson said that runners need to race as if it wasn’t their home meet and try their best.

“The biggest obstacle was to put the hoopla of the Mason Invitational extravaganza behind them and race like they always do,” Dobson said.

Despite all the obstacles the runners faced, the Comets finished every race strong, according to Grismer.

“We’re just so blessed we have such a great team where we push each other and we have tons of depth,” Grismer said, “because we’re Mason and that’s who we are.”

 Click to enlarge photos in the gallery