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home > races/results > usa: massachusetts > cvs/pharmacy downtown 5k-national championship, regional inspiration

CVS/Pharmacy Downtown 5K-National Championship, Regional Inspiration
The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K is the USA men's national championship, of course; it is also an inspirational event for all runners in the Northeast with large cash prizes for women as well. And it includes one of the most extensive children's running programs in the nation. Starting and ending at the beautiful Rhode Island Capitol, the State House, this race runs through historic Providence, and is making a little history of its own.

CVS/Pharmacy Downtown 5K-National Championship, Regional Inspiration

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By Skip Cleaver
Posted Monday, 4 August, 2003

The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K, a fast course through historic streets, will be the USATF National Men's Championship for the second consecutive year. It is a big league event in the capital of the nation's smallest state, the Ocean State, albeit one of the prettiest. The Downtown 5K will run on Sunday, September 7, when weather in New England is generally ideal for racing. But this event is far more than just a 5K race. Even prior to the 11:15 a.m. start of the big race, there will be excitement aplenty with 18 different divisions of children's races blasting off every few minutes beginning at 8:00 a.m. in the shadow of the Capitol dome.

The energy will be building well before the 5K starts, with bands playing and kids through age 15 going after their best time, and a fun time. Children's races begin with 100 meters (5 and under) and go up to 1500 meters for teens 14-15. All participants in the youth races receive medals, with trophies to the top five in all 18 divisions.

And another program is geared for high school cross country teams. Colorfully clad high school teams from throughout New England will enjoy the National Championship atmosphere and watch the championship 5K. Then they will race their own 3000-meter event over much the same course, showing their school colors. Teams with 25 runners or more are eligible for an award of $500, to be used for uniforms and equipment. This is the first year for the High School Challenge, a very innovative concept.


" We are making a huge push this year to get more youth runners involved", says Race Director Charlie Breagy.


" We are making a huge push this year to get more youth runners involved", says Race Director Charlie Breagy. That push includes expanding the youth races to 18 divisions, and creating the High School race, which is expected to draw another 1,200 to 1,500 kids--an inspirational start to their season. This is a happening, a running party, and an inspiration. Entire families will join in, and assorted corporate and other teams will battle, in addition to the men's USATF Men's National title and National Team Championship.

"We are very excited about the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K," said Jack Kramer, Race Chairman and Senior Vice President of Community Relations at CVS/pharmacy. "Every year this event benefits our community in a number of ways-bringing world class competition to Rhode Island, filling downtown Providence with thousands of people, promoting health and fitness, and, most importantly, raising money for local non-profit organizations. All of us at CVS are very proud of the fact that since we assumed sponsorship of the Downtown 5K in 2000, the race has donated over $200,000 to charity."

The Setting

There could not be a more interesting course in any downtown, in any city. The course travels along a course that is as dynamic as it is varied. There are revitalized retail shops, a bonanza called Providence Place Mall, a model for any downtown; there are historic canals, and 18th century homes and shops. And there is the State House. If you have never been to Providence, you are in for a terrific treat with something for every interest. Shopping can become cross training in this town. History buffs will love the area, especially the state house. And there are many restaurants for those post race meals and refreshments.

One of the many great things about Rhode Island is you can get to anywhere in the state very quickly. In addition to tours of Providence, visitors can quickly and easily visit the famous mansions of Newport, walk the Oceanside cliffs, or stroll the beaches of South County. There are hundreds of scenic places to run and walk, and some unusual spots as well. Museums and parks abound, and are as varied as the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum in North Kingstown, to the Daggett Farm and Slater Mill of Pawtucket, also home of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Right along the course the canal gondolas remind one of Venice, and the new train station is only a block away. Runners can come in by rail, or drive into town with plenty of parking near the state offices. The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K has a wide-open feeling, due to the expansive capitol grounds, as registration and post race ceremonies are literally on the front lawn of the State House.

The State House alone is an attraction, and a national historical landmark. The dome is the fourth largest self-supported dome in the world, topped by the sculpture "Independent Man". This beautiful building of gleaming marble contains the original colonial charter of 1663 from King Charles II; the large, priceless parchment is visible to all in its glass and steel vault. An array of famous paintings and other treasures, as well as famous battle flags from Rhode Island units are inspiring.

The Championship

World-class runners will run this race, which includes an ideal combination of great organization, large cash prizes, strong competition, and a scorching fast course. This is one of those rare opportunities for the best runners, as well as average runners to participate on the same course at the same time as the greats-Olympians and Champions. It is inspiring to be a part of the same event, perhaps even seeing athletic history made with record times on this blazing course. Live bands will be playing all along the course, adding to the spirit and the exhilaration during the race.

Teams are encouraged, and give the race a different dimension, with women's and men's open and masters, as well as seniors and veterans categories. Corporate teams will be displaying the company colors/logo, and the event is beyond dollar value for morale and team building. Companies pay dearly for team building outings, and here it is available for the low cost of registration. Be sure to see the Web site for team sign-ups.

For the National Team Championship, clubs must be USATF registered. Cash prizes are given to teams as well as to individuals.

The top woman and man will net $5,000, with prizes going 5 deep (5th is $1,000). Top teams receive $750, and team prizes are awarded three deep. Separate cash awards are given to the USA Men's Champions, with the winner receiving $5,000, and these prizes going 10 deep. A total of $50,000 will be awarded. Additionally, there are corporate team trophies, and normal age group prizes.

Brief History

This is the 14th running of the event begun in 1990. James Koskei became the fourth consecutive Kenyan man to capture the victory with his 13:39 last year. Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco won in 1998 with a blast of 13:27; he is now a US citizen and world record holder in the marathon. Amazingly, he does not hold the course record here, however. That distinction goes to Ismael Kirui of Kenya, who set the mark in 1997 (13:20). Meb Keflezighi won the USATF National Championship here last year with a sterling 13:45, third overall.

Olympic bronze medallist Lynn Jennings won the first four women's contests. Olympic silver Medallist Elana Meyer of South Africa has won this event, as has Uta Pippig of Boston Marathon fame. Jane Ngotho (twice), Catherine Ndereba, and Esther Kiplagat have all been in the winner's circle. Asmae Leghzaoui of Morocco set the course record with an outstanding 15:06 in winning the 2002 event. Leghzaoui and Meyer set national records in winning here, and five others have set 5K records for their nations as well.

How fast is this course? Eight women have raced under 15:20, and another 25 under 15:40, and 45 under 16:00. For the men 4 have been under 13:30, 26 under 13:40, and an unbelievable 63 under 13:50.

Be There

Why do so many thousands want to be a part of these events in Providence? For a myriad of reasons, including the aura and participation of world-class caliber athletes, a flat and blazing fast course, prizes, music, and post-race celebrations. Many in New England and the Northeast are joyful about getting a National Championship, and will not be missing this one.

Competition is fierce nationwide for these championship events, and winning it is a great credit to the organization and speaks to the quality of this event. From registration under the large tents to the setting and the music, everything at the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K is world class. Yes, this 5K is one of the must-do events of the Northeast. In fact, runners are expected from all over the nation. Those who can stay a few days and enjoy the atmosphere of "Little Rhody" will be very glad they did. All participants are in for a superlative and inspirational experience.



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