PNW Pioneer

Spring Fling to conclude after an 18-year long run

Students, staff and community members compete in the 18th annual Spring Fling Ramp Run 5k.

Students, staff and community members compete in the 18th annual Spring Fling Ramp Run 5k.

Steven Petty

Steven Petty

Students, staff and community members compete in the 18th annual Spring Fling Ramp Run 5k.

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For 18 years, students and faculty have participated in PNW’s Spring Fling 5k Ramp Run. Yet, April 15 was the final installment of the event.

In 2001, students, faculty and fitness center members longed for an additional race to match the Fall Frolic 4-Mile Run. The response from PNW resulted in the 5,000-meter Spring Fling 5k Run.

The original 5k course included sections of campus walkways and nearby streets. In April 2006, the course was changed to include the incline ramps of PNW’s parking garage. From then on, the event took on a new identity as the Spring Fling 5k Ramp Run.

Race director John Bobalik said this event is the only one of its kind in northwest Indiana.

“There are tons of volunteers, people cheering for you and awards for the top three students and faculty. Plus, all the money goes back to the students for scholarships,” Bobalik said.

Bobalik, with co-directors Tabitha Stills and Sarah Belford, recalled a handful of memories — from on-againoff-again rain delays to a student-aid golf cart breaking down during the race.

Among many moments shared, a simultaneous laugh ensued when remembering the near disaster of the infamous 2013 T-shirt fiasco.

“Two days before the event, we received dozens of shirts that read ‘Calument’ rather ‘Calumet.’ Thankfully, we were able to send them back and get correctly spelled shirts without any problems,” Stills said.

Bobalik, Stills and Bedford decided 2018 would be the last year for the race due to money and attendance.

When the run was established, a local group called the Calumet Region Striders wanted the event to be part of the Gold Cup Races, a series of races across northwest Indiana. Every organization associated must pay an entry fee per race, but after many payments Bobalik felt the tax was becoming tedious. In addition, the race directors have not witnessed a growing number in attendance.

“There is always a great turnout, but the number has not significantly increased over the years. We figured it might be time to change it up,” Stills said.

While no official plans for Spring 2019 have been confirmed, the group emphasized plans for change.

“We want to do something different — something unique — whether that’s a potential new race in Westville or maybe a new event entirely, there is a lot of potential. Everyone should stay tuned,” Belford said.

The final race featured a shirt with a new logo, honoring the evolution of the event from 2001-2018. Belford, Bobalik and Stills expressed gratitude to everybody involved.

“This has never been a two person show. We would like to thank everyone who has been associated with this event: students, faculty, volunteers and city of Hammond. We could not have done this without them,” the race directors said.

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