GREENSBURG – The fifth On Eagle’s Wings 5K run/walk drew more than 700 runners and about 150 volunteers to the campus of St. Mary’s School Saturday morning for a competitive run, kids’ games and an annual church celebration.
On Eagle’s Wings 5K co-chair Kristy Lowe said 721 runners registered for this year’s event, in addition to about 150 volunteers. Some came for the incomparable bragging rights associated with finishing with a top time, while others took a more leisurely pace toward the finish line. But no matter their intent, the race – which remains among the largest of its kind in the Hoosier State and across the Midwest – appeared to be a good time for all.
“It was beautiful weather,” said Lowe. “It was the perfect day for it. We thought everything went great and we got lots of positive feedback.”
The event, which is held each year in memory of Don and Barb Horan and Steve and Denise Butz – two local couples and St. Mary’s Church members who were killed in a plane crash in 2012 – was a day of happy remembrance as well as a lead-in to the revelry long-associated with the St. Mary’s Festival.
There were good times to be had on both fronts.
“We couldn’t be happier that we’re five years in and things are still going great,” said Lowe.
Lowe said it would take some time for financial information to become available, but she said organizers are optimistic about the proceeds. The proceeds help one student each year with a scholarship. This year’s recipient was Greensburg Community High School graduate Kyle Bumbala.
Lowe said Bumbala received $7,000 to help with his collegiate studies via the Decatur County Community Foundation’s On Eagle’s Wings Endowment. Last year’s recipient was Spencer Burkert.
The event also helps the Greensburg Community High School wrestling program and the Decatur County United Fund. Prior to the creation of the endowment, proceeds helped finish the new St. Mary’s Parish that opened in August 2016, across from the school on Hunter Robbins Way. The elementary school opened in 2011.
The children of the Horans and Butzes determined how the proceeds from the event would be used, Lowe said.
Long known as an event with heart, the center of the program appeared to be a success as well as runners as young as 8 joined several 70-somethings (and a few with some years beyond that) on the 3.1 mile course.
This year’s winner was 18-year-old Gray Finn of Fairfield, Ohio, who finished the course in only 18 minutes and 50 seconds.
Matt Slaven, a popular Greensburg Junior High School teacher and cross country coach, finished second with a time of 19 minutes and 42 seconds. Slaven, 36, finished only two seconds behind his time in 2016, which was good for fifth place in that event.
Rounding out the top five overall finishers were 13-year-olds Jonathon Ralston and Lleyton Knecht, both of Greensburg, and Batesville’s Ronnie McCallister. McCallister, 52, was the only participant over the age of 50 to make the top 10.
The eldest participant in Saturday’s race was 84-year-old Ester Nieman, of Greensburg. She finished the entire course in 57 minutes and 30 seconds.
A stroller division allowed busy parents and their little ones to compete as well on a bright, cool morning that provided nearly-perfect weather for the race.
Complete results are available at stuartroadracing.com.
After the winners had been decided and appropriate awards were given out, there was still plenty of fun to be had Saturday and Sunday.
About 45 memory lanterns were launched from the campus as dusk fell Saturday night, while festival-goers enjoyed music from Nuttin’ Fancy and the Keith Swinney band throughout the weekend. They also helped themselves to about to 500 pounds of pork and an estimated 3,000 pieces of chicken.
A bake sale proved a popular attraction as did a beer garden and numerous games designed for kids and adults. The former appeared to have a blast as they bounced around on a variety of inflatables or played on St. Mary’s School playground equipment.
A kids’ fun run added to that enjoyment with station-to-station games and other suitably silly activities.
Many people enjoyed those games and more.
Co-chair Brian Wenning previously told the Daily News that the St. Mary’s Festival is open to all – not just St. Mary’s church members — and that message appeared to have been heard loud and clear.
“Saturday night was absolutely incredible with the number of people that came out,” said Lowe.
Lowe said organizers are grateful to the community members who took part, as well as the sponsors who helped the program take flight once again.
Next year’s race is set for Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018. The St. Mary’s Festival will begin that afternoon followed on Sunday by more activities.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056; email@example.com