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051114 riverbank run LEAD

Runners leave the 10-kilometer start area staged on Higgins Avenue on Saturday morning during the 42nd annual YMCA Riverbank Run last May.

Be you a rookie, a pro, or somewhere in between, the YMCA Riverbank Run provides something for everyone.

For serious runners, it can provide a challenging race against worthy competitors. For the less experienced, a goal to achieve.

Regardless of the why, the race’s popularity is undeniable, and it kicks off at 9 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Higgins and Broadway. Runners of all stripes and size will race in either a 10-kilometer run, a 5K, a 1-mile Fun Run, or the “Trifecta,” a combination of all three.

“This race is my all-time favorite YMCA event,” race organizer Erin McHugh said. “We get every type of person, from serious runners to walkers to stroller pushers who come out to race and it’s so fun to watch.”

This year’s is the 43rd edition of the YMCA’s premier event, and the third since race organizers decided to move the race from its usual late-April date to early May.

McHugh said depending on how the race goes this year, the change might become permanent.

“We were chasing the sun, trying to get the weather (when they moved the date),” she said. “The old date would sometimes line up with Bloomsday (a 12K in Spokane), and we don’t want runners to have to choose between the two.”

Regardless of when the run is held, the competition will be fierce. McHugh estimates about 3,000 people will run in this year’s race, and some of them are pretty darn fast. Last year’s 10k winner, Tim Caramore, averaged 5-minute, 30-second miles.

Racers come out in droves for the Riverbank Run, with many of the best taking on the Trifecta.

“The Trifecta is the big race that gets a lot of runners going for time, and they come out guns blazing,” she said. “It attracts the top athletes, because it’s a challenge. A lot of people use it as a warm-up for the marathon later in the summer.”

Last year, Cory Souillard won the Trifecta on the men’s side and Trisha Drobeck won the women’s competition.

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For those late to the party, fear not; like the state of Montana, the Riverbank Run offers same-day registration, which takes place from 7-8 a.m. Saturday morning. Late registration is $20 for kids, $33 for adults, and if the whole family is racing, a flat rate of $71.

All of the proceeds help fund the camps, swim lessons and various events the YMCA puts on.

"The YMCA Riverbank Run is a fun event for the entire family,” said Jon Lange, CEO of the YMCA. "The registration fees are used to help empower kids and create opportunities for families in our community.”

The 10K is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., the 5K at 10:30, and the 1-mile at 11:45. The 10K course starts downtown, then runs over the Higgins Bridge, down University Avenue and then Arthur to South, before finishing at Boone and Crockett headquarters.

The 5K goes down Higgins and around the University, before finishing in the same place.

It’s there at the finish that race organizers will try to establish the race's newest tradition -- handing out flowers. Because it’s a day before Mother’s Day, everyone who is, was, or might be a mother will be presented with flowers upon finishing the race.

“It’ll be a nice way to celebrate, and to appreciate all that moms do,” McHugh said.

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