Purchase photos

Organizers: Race an 'overwhelming success'





Organizers described the first Susan G. Komen Mid-Kansas Race for the Cure in Hays as an "overwhelming success."

Nearly 1,700 runners signed up for the 5K race Saturday morning. Organizers hoped for at least 1,000 for the event's inaugural year. The large crowd of runners took off down Main Street shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday.

"I was standing on the bridge looking north, and it was just simply overwhelming to see that many people," said Nancy Harman of Hays, co-chairwoman of the event planning committee.

"And the enthusiasm, the smiles and the excitement were contagious."

In addition to the athletes who signed up to run or walk in the 5K, many friends, family members and area residents gathered in Hays for other activities or just to show their support for breast cancer advocacy.

The day also included a family fun walk, a kids' race and a breakfast honoring breast cancer survivors.

Participants traveled to Hays from throughout Kansas, and some even came from other states, Harman said, noting the committee already is starting plans for next year's race.

"It's like starting from a dream and a vision, and then step by step in our community, the committee members never failed, never faltered and everyone did their part," she said. "The result was this overwhelming success. It was truly amazing."

The event is intended to raise breast cancer awareness and money to benefit medical programs and research. Approximately 75 percent of the money raised will benefit western Kansas community programs, such as Hays Medical Center's Breast Care Center.

As of Tuesday morning, the Hays event had raised approximately $110,000.

Donations still are accepted online at www.komenmidks.org.

There has been an annual Komen race in Wichita for more than 20 years, but organizers saw a need to start a second event in western Kansas. The race is expected to become an annual event, and it is intended to stay in Hays, said Lindsay Smith, executive director of the Wichita-based Mid-Kansas chapter of Susan G. Komen.

"As far as we're concerned, it already is a success," Smith said.

"I think there were a lot of people in Hays who had never been to a Race for the Cure. So once they see what a special day it is ... I think people will want to then be a part of it again and again."