After seven years, Christopher’s Run hasn’t strayed from its roots, continuing to be an easy-going, community-oriented event.
A total of 177 people participated in the seventh annual Christopher’s Run 5K at Agawam Park on Sunday. The event benefits the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Duke University Medical Center.
The event was founded in 2008 by Chuck and Kendra Lesta, the parents of Christopher Lesta, who died in 2007, months after starting kindergarten. Christopher was born with Hunter syndrome, or MPS II, a rare and untreatable genetic disorder that makes the body unable to produce certain necessary enzymes. As a result, cells do not perform properly and cause progressive damage throughout the body, including a drastically shortened lifespan.
Christopher was given an umbilical cord blood transplant at the Duke University Medical Center in 2005 and was seemingly fine before he contracted an infection that spread to his heart and eventually took his life in December 2007.
In 2010, the family pledged a goal of $50,000 toward the program, and they currently have raised $40,000. The totals from this year’s event haven’t been tallied, because the other half of the event, a Chinese auction at the North Sea Community House, takes place Saturday.
Community seemed to be a big theme when Kendra Lesta was asked about the event.
“The number of runners has always been around 175 to 200, because it is more of a community, family-and-friends event, as opposed to some of the other big races that take place in the summer,” Lesta said. “It’s always been more family-oriented, because a lot of people knew Christopher and know my family.”
Twenty-five-year-old Louis Ramirez won the event, with a time of 17:13.2, followed by Jason Hancock, 40 (17:59.6), Evan Roberts, 35 (18:41.1), and Spencer Crough, 15 (18:46.5). In fifth place, and the first overall female finisher, was Tara Farrell, 35 (19:10.6), who was also last year’s top female racer.
“I’ve been training three hours a day for months,” said Ramirez, who finished fifth last year. “It felt good to win.”
Farrell said she was a little disappointed in her time, saying that the heat had an effect on her, but she enjoys the speed of the course and the event as a whole.
Full results as well as more information on the race are at christophersrun.com.
“I really just enjoy the day, because it’s great to see months of hard work pay off and everything come together.” Lesta said. “It’s a laid-back, fun race, and that’s what makes it enjoyable. You see the same faces and start recognizing the names. It’s really nice.”