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Marshall community prepares to host annual Oaklawn Hospitality Classic

Hundreds of Marshall residents and visitors will share the joy of a brisk spring outing on the town’s historic streets during the 32nd annual Oaklawn Hospital Hospitality Classic.

Runners, walkers and fitness fans from across Michigan will come to town Saturday, May 17. The event is expected to bring more than a thousand participants and volunteers downtown.

There, they’ll run, jog and walk during activities that will take them throughout the historic community and its rural surroundings.

Members of the Lubis family – including John Lubis, his wife Jodi and their children Matt, 13, and Monica, 17 – will be among the hundreds who plan to take part.

“Helping Oaklawn Hospital and this great event supports Eaton’s ‘Five Pillars of Health,’ our employee wellness initiative,” said Lubis, who is program manager for Eaton Corp., the event’s top corporate sponsor.

“The idea is to help encourage employees to eat well, get fit, reduce stress and be trim,” Lubis said. The Lubises are serving as honorary chairs of this year’s event.

The Hospitality Classic will feature a 10K race beginning at 7:30 a.m., followed by the 5K race at 9 a.m. A noncompetitive May Walk will begin at 9 a.m. following the runners, with the Mile Fun Run beginning at 10 a.m.

As activities get under way at 7 a.m., George Youngdahl of Marshall will sing the National Anthem.

Those who wish more information – or want to register – may do so online at http://www.oaklawnhospital.org/hospitality-classic, said event coordinator Theresa Shippell of Oaklawn Hospital’s Development Department.

Reduced registration rates are available through May 9. Online registration also may be done at http://www.classicrace.com. A small processing fee is added to online registrations.

A new feature this year is early packet pick-up for runners who’ve registered in advance. That will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, in the main lobby of Oaklawn Hospital, 200 N. Madison St.

In-person registration also is possible Saturday morning just before the races. Registration tents will be set up on the west lawn of Monarch Community Bank, just north of the Brooks Memorial Fountain circle.

The registration fee includes a commemorative short-sleeve cotton T-shirt. Shirts are guaranteed only to the first 1,200 registrants. Further information is available from Shippell at (269) 789-3942.

Because timing will be important during each race, timing chips will be embedded in each participant’s race-number bib. The chips are part of the Chronotrack B-Tag Timing System overseen by Michigan-based Classic Race Management.

In addition to the hospital’s sponsorship, the event’s corporate sponsors include Eaton Corp. and Monarch Community Bank.

Other community supporters and donors include the Marshall Historical Society, BluFish Consulting LLC, City of Marshall, Save-a-Lot Food Stores, Family Fare Food Center, O’Leary Water Care Services, Quality Engraving, Party Time Tents & More, McDonald’s of Marshall, WSI Racing, FUG Screenprint & Embroidery, Gazelle Sports, Standard Printing & Office Supply, Chemical Bank, State Farm Insurance – Lisa Sands, Marshall Disposal and the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance.

“We’ve also had countless volunteers from among the hospital’s employee ranks as well as the community at large,” said Shippell.

USA Track & Field has certified the Hospitality Classic’s courses, which start in downtown Marshall and follow city streets through the historic residential district, out into the country and back to the staging area with a fast downhill finish at the Honolulu House and Fountain Circle.

The event coincides with the final day of National Hospital Week, sponsored by the American Hospital Association.

Over the years, Eaton has been a regular sponsor of the race, but its contribution this year represents a significant increase in involvement.

Several Eaton employees plan to run in the race as well as volunteer for various activities, including setting up the course and supervision of water stations and the finish line.

Eaton’s donation will be used toward purchase of awards, food and operating expenses, and to support Oaklawn’s HealthYou and 100 Lap Club programs in regional schools.

Since Eaton’s involvement, the 100 Lap Club has expanded into neighboring communities, growing from about 650 students to more than 820. That club is funded by the annual race.

The programs’ goal is to encourage healthy habits – including diet and exercise – at an early age, to shape an attentive and healthy student population in Calhoun County. It’s done through the promotion of fun, fitness and the enjoyment of running and walking.

“We also hope students will encourage their parents to participate as they work to earn their 100 Lap Club membership,” Lubis said.

“One of the best things we can do for our children is encourage them to be more active and engage with other people in healthy, fun activities,” said Lisa Middleton, who supervises Oaklawn’s HealthYou program.

“The Hospitality Classic is a perfect example of the kind of activity that gets young and old alike doing something good for themselves,” said Middleton, a physical therapist assistant/athletic trainer with Oaklawn Physical Rehabilitation Services.

“Forming a relationship with long-term health from the beginning is so important – and so is extending the message to the parents,” Lubis said. “We’ve got a big opportunity – especially in Calhoun County – to increase that awareness and participation.”

Jodi Lubis owns Pastrami Joe’s in Marshall, which sponsored the recent Reuben Race 5K Run/Walk for Charity as a fundraiser for the Fountain Clinic. That event was conceived as a way for the region’s runners and walkers to prepare for the Hospitality Classic’s big races, she said.