CHUGWATER – Runners from all over Platte County came to run in this year’s second annual Chugwater 5K.
The runners began arriving at 7:30 and found their way to the registration table where they had to pay their $30 fee for unregistered runners and $45 for registered runners who had ordered a T-shirt.
Chugwater’s Emily Hogan who was the organizer of the run was excited at the turnout and said that the event was a big success and wanted to say thank you to all the participants and sponsors. The sponsors who were named on the backs of the T-shirts were, High Standard HVAC, Borchardt Trucking, LLC, BB West Vintage and Tri-County Mercantile, Heartbeat-C Salon & Day Spa and Country Girls Embroidery.
The motto for this year’s race was, “It’s not how fast you go, but it’s the difference you make.” The Chugwater 5K or as some were calling it, the 5K Chug.
After registration, runners gathered for a pre-race picture and then put their game faces on as the group of runners, walkers, strollers and lopers crossed the starting line at 8:30 a.m. on a very warm and uncharacteristically calm day in Chugwater.
The route began at Chugwater School, wound through the backstreets of Chugwater and then headed south on Main Street out of town and over the Chugwater bridge. At the southernmost point of the bridge, water was waiting marking the half-way point.
At that halfway point, runners turned around on the bridge and headed back north toward the park where the Chugwater Chili Cookoff was due to start at 9 a.m. and where the band, Southside Highway was taking the main stage to perform.
The entire race took just over an hour to get everyone safely across the finish line. Awards were given in three categories
First place in the men’s division was Monte Nielsen who was the overall winner, coming in at 22.07 and who was awarded a $20 gift card to Tri-County Mercantile. First place in the female division was Liberty Hoover who finished with a 23.15 and was awarded a gift card to BB West Vintage. First place for a child under 12 was Eli Pleiman who sailed in at 35.45 and was given a certificate for an ice cream cone at The Soda Fountain.
This second annual 5k run accompanied ran in conjunction with the annual Chugwater Chili Cook-Off, and was created to help support the town’s school, which faces an uncertain future due to budget cuts.
“It was just really exciting to have one more thing be added to the lineup for the cook-off,” said Emily Hogan, president of the Booster Club and PTA.
The 5k came on the same day as the Chugwater Chili Cook-Off, making it one big event and celebration. The race is a fundraising event for the Chugwater schools and teachers. When Hogan became the president of the Booster Club in 2020, she realized that there were funding issues regarding the schools. In many instances, teachers needed to pay for added materials themselves. The money raised from the race is funneled directly back to the school.
5k men: First place finisher for the men was Monte Nielson who came in with a time of 22.07.
5k women: First place finisher for in the women’s division was Liberty Hoover who finished with a time of 23.15.
5k junior: First place finisher in the junior category for children under 12 was Eli Pleiman who finished with a time of 35.45.
“We’re hoping that we can start advertising that there is a 5k prior to the cook-off and get other people that aren’t just in our community or just in Wheatland to participate in this run, which will also help gather more funds for our school as well,” said Hogan. “All the money goes to help our school.”
Budget cuts make the future of the school uncertain.
“We don’t know where our school stands with budget cuts. I don’t know what our school looks like moving forward, if there even is going to be a school,” Hogan said. “If we still continue to have a school, I will absolutely keep doing this event. Worst case scenario is we don’t have a school to support, and if we don’t, I think this [5k] brings in enough money that I would like to find something else in town to continue doing this and to donate that money to,” explained Hogan.
In the past, local Chugwater businesses were asked to sponsor and Hogan said that this was an opportunity for local businesses to support and donate to school and gain notice from the community.
“We don’t have a ton of businesses down there, but these businesses are very, very gracious with always supporting and donating to any event or anything that we need. Chugwater is very special for that reason because we’re a pretty tight-knit community,” Hogan said.
Between the runners and the sponsors, last’s year’s race raised $1350.
Last year, seventy people paid for the run, though only around fifty people ran in the race. This helped Hogan realize that some people do not want to run in the race, but they still want to support the school. Changes for this year include providing people with the option to run in the 5k or just donating.
“I think it’s just a really good feeling when you put something together like this and try to bring the community together and you see so much love and support. It just makes you feel good that so many people care,” said Hogan.