By Jack Calhoun
City on a Hill Press Reporter
In tough economic times such as these, it seems everyone in the UC system from the top down is feeling the crunch. As money becomes more and more scarce, and people begin backing away into their conservative spending shells, organizations and programs desperate for the most basic of funds are struggling to stay alive.
One of the programs that’s been hit the hardest is UC Santa Cruz’s cross country club, a Tier I team founded in 1995 that comprises roughly 20 members. Not to be confused with women’s cross country, a DIII team at UCSC, the cross country club is a competitive solution for both men and women looking to run.
Although hurting for money, the burn for finances is by no means a new feeling for the club. It seems that almost every season, money becomes more of an issue for the hardworking members.
“Every year the team wants to travel at least once,” said sophomore cross country captain Charles Quan. “This year, we wanted to go to Humboldt for a [race]. We trained hard all season, but it turned out we couldn’t go due to lack of funding.”
Quan explained that there are hotels, cars, and entry fees needed for meets, all of which would easily add up to $400 if the club chose to send a team of seven runners down.
With trips to far-away meets out of the picture, much-needed funds to cover even the most basic of necessities, such as uniforms and entry fees, have lately been difficult to come by.
In an attempt to dig out the desperately needed funding, the club will host the annual Slug Run, a fun on-campus run that often attracts several hundred participants. The course starts at the East Field, then weaves its way through campus, eventually making its way into Upper Campus, where it then directs participants back to the East Field. The event caters to several distances, ranging from the children’s 1-kilometer to a 5K all the way up to a 10K for the more ambitious runners.
“Hands-down, it’s the biggest on-campus race of the year,” said Kathy Ferraro, recreation supervisor for OPERS and original founder of the club. Though not as involved with the club as she used to be, Ferraro still actively helps them by lending a hand with the Slug Run every year.
“It’s a great way to support the team,” Ferraro said. “It’s a challenging, hilly course with a beautiful setting. If nothing else, you can spectate as you run.”
Although the club is anticipating a larger-than-normal turnout for the race this April, it did not come without hardship.
“I told them that I wasn’t going to help out with the run this year,” said Kevin “Skippy” Givens, sports club director and one of a few people who has assisted with the annual event in previous years. “But I couldn’t. I just didn’t have the time.”
Though disappointed at being without Givens, one of the driving forces behind the run, the team didn’t lose sight of its goal or the money it needed to raise in order to stay afloat. Despite the obstacles, the club was determined to get the event on its feet.
Shortly after hearing this, the team went up to Givens and asked him what they would need to do in order to make the race happen.
The club has since taken matters into its own hands, and members are now on their way to hosting their very own Slug Run next month.
Registration for the race is $10 for UCSC students, $20 for non-UCSC students, and $5 for kids, Ferraro said. Every runner gets a T-shirt, with medals for the first-place finisher of every age group.
David Moutrie, a senior on the team, is happy with the results of past Slug Runs and what they have been able to do for the team — especially considering some of the alternative fundraising events the club has tried throughout the years.
“I remember we used to do ridiculous [fundraisers], like 24-hour relays,” Moutrie said. “We’d get sponsors and pledges and run around East Field for 24 hours. It was pretty nuts. Every 45 minutes or an hour, you’d get up and run a mile or two. The 4:30 a.m. mile was a pretty tough one to run.”
The Slug Run will be held on April 11, with the first race starting at 7:45 a.m. Anyone interested in running to help out a struggling team is encouraged to participate.
“[The members] have been nothing short of exceptional,” Givens said. “They showed me that they’ll do anything to keep the club going.”
<i>Anyone interested in signing up for the race may pre-register online at Active.com or UCSCRecreation.com.
Race day registrations are welcome, but T-shirts will only be available while supplies last.</i>
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