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home > races/results > usa: rhode island > cvs/pharmacy downtown 5k - they’ve got a race for you!

CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K - They’ve got a race for you!
6,000+ athletes of all shapes and sizes are expected for the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5k Sept 11th. No excuses - They’ve got a race for you!

CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K - They’ve got a race for you!

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By Christopher Russell
Posted Tuesday, 23 August, 2005

The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K is in its 16th year and it keeps getting better and better with more people, more sponsorship, more variations and more excitement.

Included this year in the downtown Providence Rhode Island festivities are:

  • Corporate team challenge
  • Kids Races – All grades
  • Middle school challenge (6 races)
  • High School Inspirational 3K
  • Special Olympics race
  • The 2005 USATF Men's and Women’s 5K National Championships
  • Fire Fighter – Police Challenge

What is it? What’s the deal?

The deal is that for the last 15 years the same core group of volunteers has been staging a world class 5K in the center of Providence, RI. With some management expertise, strong sponsorship, local enthusiasm and maybe a little luck, it has grown to a quite a show. It has become a place where school kids can compete just like the adults, where USATF records can be set and where teams of all different stripes can test their mettle in enthusiastic competition. Each year the organizers add new angles, new wrinkles and new twists to keep it compelling. The result is an event that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Get your boss some running shoes – Team up!

Over 60 corporate teams signed up for the team challenge last year. Teams can have as many of your rabbit-like cubicle-mates as you want. The top three times from each team are added together and compared to declare a winner. I’ve got to figure that this is a great way to get some extra time off, right? Surely the boss wants you to put in a good showing for company pride? You should be able to work in a couple weeks of coming in late, taking long lunches and leaving early for ‘training’. If you do well, you can get a couple days off for ‘recovery’.

The corporate teams include categories for female masters; male masters; female open and male open. You should be able to find some like minded co-workers to help you out. It will be good for moral and everyone will look better in their business suits! There’s no down side. Typically the HR department can be talked into paying the registration fee. I once talked my marketing people into team shirts for this sort of thing and got some free company CoolMax!

The top five teams in each category and the top three masters teams receive team awards. You might bring something back to the office to frame and hang in the lobby. Grab your mates and sign a team up! Show yourself as a true corporate thoroughbred; carpe diem!

New this year – the fire fighter / police challenge

Things are always changing with this event. Here’s a great example. (They work in more angles than a geometry test) This year, for the first time, there will be teams from Police and Fire Departments in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Since the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5k is taking place on September 11th, organizers thought this would be a great way to expand the offering.

There will be awards for the first place teams in each division. In addition, in the spirit of interdepartmental rivalry, (i.e. ‘friendly competition’), the best 50 police times will be matched against the best 50 fire fighter times for a special trophy.

All teams are provided simple registration for the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K through the race website,

Kids, kids and more kids!

One of the super aspects of this event is the youth running promotion. They have a race for every grade with an age appropriate distance. Schools can sign teams up and get registration for free! That’s right – any school that signs up a team gets free registration. School teams that manage to finish 25 or more runners get into a $500 drawing. Here’s the grade/distance start times chart from the website. As you can see it is quite a busy place at the starting line during the morning. There is a blur of activity. There is not a minute to spare. Somehow the volunteers make it all go off without a hitch.
Time GRADE Distance*

8:00am Kindergarten Girls 100M (includes 5 and under)
8:07am Kindergarten Boys 100M (includes 5 and under)
8:14am girls 1st Grade 100M
8:21am boys 1st Grade 100M
8:28am girls 2nd Grade 200M
8:35am boys 2nd Grade 200M
8:42am girls 3rd Grade 400M
8:49am boys 3rd Grade 400M
8:56am girls 4th Grade 800M
9:04am boys 4th Grade 800M
9:12am girls 5th Grade 800M
9:20am boys 5th Grade 800M
9:28am Special Olympics 400M
9:30am girls 6th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams
9:50am boys 6th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams
10:00am girls 7th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams
10:10am boys 7th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams
10:20am girls 8th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams
10:30am boys 8th Grade 1500M Includes middle school teams

This event has become a big deal for the kids. It is a real race for them. The top 5 kids in each age category will get awards. All participants get a T-shirt and all youth finishers will get a medallion as well. Grab your coach potatoes and tell them, “summer vacation is over, turn off the TV, it’s time to start training for the race.”

The organizers do a great job of making these Youth Races more than just another ‘fun run’. It has all the look and feel of a serious event and the kids appreciate that. The kids really get into it and you might be surprised at the competition that ensues. This is a great way to give something back to the local schools, (that have seen some tough challenges over the last few years). It gives the kids true self esteem from their accomplishments.

When the action gets up to the middle school level they are running almost a mile and there is a team competition. These kids really take it seriously and compete hard.

There are school teams from all over. This year there will be a team from Ireland. This is a great competitive team event for our future stars to take on during the summer.

The high school kids get an even bigger challenge. There is a special 3K course for them. They get chip timing just like the big time. These kids are serious (and some not so serious, we are talking about teenagers!). You will see school singlets from all over as they compete for school pride and personal glory in front of the big crowd. As an added inspiration they get to see the ultra-fast USATF competitors in the 5K race. It’s a big deal for them, you can see it in their faces when they finish.

Through this kind of event hopefully we’ll see some future champions emerge. It’s great to see such enthusiasm for youth running.

Speed, speed and more speed – USAFT Nationals

The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K is the USATF 5K national championship. New this year, it is also the Women’s championship. You will see some famous fast people there vying for the prize. Tim Broe won last year with a 4:23 pace 13:36.3, that’s smoking. The record is 13:20 by Ismael Kirui of Kenya in 1997. Holy smokes! Typically the top 50 finishers are under a 5 minute pace. Yes, it is a fast field. The first female last year was Marie Davenport with a 15:21 finish at a 4:57 pace.

Come down to Providence, you can get close to the excitement of USATF teams and individuals vying for the championship. All US citizen, USATF members are eligible for prize money. Top placers also earn points in the 2005 USA Road Circuit. The prize money for USA Championship male and female is 1st-$5000 2nd-$3000 3rd-$2000 4th-$1500 5th-$1000 6th-$900 7th-$700 8th-$500 9th-$300 10th-$100

This race is also the USATF Team Championship. The team scoring is the total time of the top five finishers. Teams can have up to eight declared members.

There is a strong international field as well and you will be able to see some superstars from Europe and Africa. Even though they don’t qualify for the USATF championships, there are significant prizes for the overall winners as well. Open Men/Women 1st-$3000 2nd-$2000 3rd-$1000 and Master Men/Women (age 40-49) 1st-$500 2nd-$250 3rd-$150

All in all this will be an awesome thing to watch again this year. With all these superstar athletes you might think that we mere mortals are not included. If the fast times concern you, don’t worry. The person in last place, 2,450th place to be exact, was a local from Providence that ran a 66:45.9 at a 21:19 pace. There’s a lot of room in between for you and I to finish!

The course this year will be the same as last year with a fast down hill start in front of the scenic State House. The course is a fast 5K loop around the center of the city.

The organizers find a way to include everybody in this event. There is a wheel chair division and there is also a Special Olympics contingent. Nothing is left out. Nobody is left out. Everybody is taken care of and everybody has a good time.

A small state, a big 5K and a big heart

In 1636 a religious dissident from the Massachusetts Bay Colony named Roger Williams broke away and stuck his new town at the head of Narragansett Bay. This town he named “Providence” for the will of God.

The CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K runs in the center of Providence Rhode Island. The whole city supports it. Providence is the capital city of Rhode Island, known and loved for its abundance of historic and cultural attractions. Providence is famous for its beautifully preserved historic architecture throughout the city, with more buildings on the National Historic Register than anywhere else.

During the weekend of the event there are activities tied to the celebration. There are first class amenities for everything. The event has extremely strong sponsorship from many A-list companies, most notably CVS/pharmacy that is the major headlining sponsor. This support allows the event to be managed extremely well for all participants and make a high impact.

The night before the event there is a party on the newly renovated ‘Riverwalk’ that runs through downtown and gives a romantic atmosphere. Sponsors host this event called ‘water fire’. The weekend activities do a good job of showcasing Providence and the gains it has made over the past decades. In a sense, the history of the CVS/pharmacy Downtown 5K chronicles the revival of Providence as well.

Get to Providence, bring your kids, be a part of this world class event.

There’s no good reason not to get down to Providence on September 11th this year. You can form a team, you can join a team or you can just root for a team. You can be a spectator to the best 5K runners in the country and the future best. Cheer on our local talent and maybe, in a few years, we’ll have some kids from Rhode Island standing on the podium with the Kenyans!



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