More than 50 years ago, an Episcopal congregation started meeting at James Lane Allen Elementary School. On May 11, the congregation of St. Raphael Episcopal Church's second annual Race the Rector 5K and One Mile Fun Run will start at the same location.
The 5K winds past Rector Johnnie Ross's house on Seven Pines for a water stop and finishes at the church the congregation built at 1891 Parkers Mill Road.
The original goal was to get 50 runners for the church's 50th anniversary, said Ross, who came to Lexington from a post in Prestonsburg, was once a state environmental inspector in Eastern Kentucky and will be running in the race. Forty-six participated last year.
"We like that it's a small race," said JeanEllen Melton, the church's administrative assistant who helped organize the race.
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The run is a fun but casual way to interact with the neighborhood and celebrate the church's heritage while raising money for its children's ministries, Ross said.
"Fifty years ago James Lane Allen (Elementary School) offered some pilgrim Episcopalians a place to meet," Ross said. "The race was a way to do the pilgrimage again. ... This is a pretty diverse community, and this is a way to explore that."
The church, which has a membership of about 300, also hosts meetings of The Colony Neighborhood Association and a troop of Navigators USA, a scouting program that was created in response to inclusion concerns with the Boy Scouts.
The run serves as a way to unite the church with its surrounding neighborhood, Ross said. Church members will go out a week before the race and let neighbors along the route know that the race is coming through. Last year some of the neighbors responded by cheering on runners along the route.
Funds raised through Race the Rector go to Saint Raphael's ministries benefiting children: Reading Camp South Africa, Camp Haven, mission trips and more.
To prepare for the Race the Rector, Saint Raphael's member Frank Price plans to run the Cincinnati Marathon on Sunday.
"It's very much a neighborhood run, with little hills," he said. "As a runner, it's nice that it's not at Coldstream. This is a new route, which is very nice."
He said he doesn't have a time he hopes to beat, but that he plans to at least pass the rector.
"It's my plan to at least beat him," Price said.
The folks at Saint Raphael are not the only ones sponsoring a fundraising race. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church will hold its 23rd annual Run for the Nun 5K run in June. Special prizes are given for those who beat the running nun, who is usually a male in full nun garb running along the course.
Race director Julie White said that those who pass a nun usually get a prize, such as a meal at the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Country Fair, which takes place the same weekend.
The race last year drew approximately 500 runners, White said, and the route includes scenic bits of Armstrong Mill and Delong roads.
"We have the cops shut down the road, so it's just us out there," White said. "It's pretty."
if you go
Second annual Race the Rector 5K and One Mile Fun Run
When: 8:30 a.m., May 11
Where: Starts at James Lane Allen Elementary School, 1901 Appomattox Road
Contact: JeanEllen Melton, email@example.com, (859) 255-4987 or visit Racetherector.org
Twenty-third annual Run for the Nun 5K and one mile fun run
When: 8 a.m., June 1
Where: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, 1730 Summerhill Drive
Cost: $20 for 5K; one mile fun run and team rates also available
Contact: Julie White, (859) 273-2485; or visit Runforthenun.org