What once was a community service project has grown to become an annual event.
In its fifth year, the annual Sage Rat Run will take place Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18.
Mike Akins, whose son Gabriel organized the first-ever Sage Rat Run, said organizers recognize the event coincides with the Lower Valley Relay for Life.
“We don’t want to compete with the relay…we want to complement it,” he said.
For that reason, organizers have added to the Sage Rat Run a virtual run for those participating in the Lower Valley Relay for Life.
“They can participate in both this way,” said Akins.
He said, “Those who participate in the Relay for Life walk long distances and deserve a medal of their own.”
Proceeds from the Sage Rat Run benefit Ronald McDonald House and several other causes. One of its most recent projects has been providing ResQ kits for law enforcement officers. The kits are worn by officers, providing them the tools to treat severe wounds when medical personnel are unable to reach them.
The Sage Rat Run features races for everyone. There is a kids race, a 5K, 12K, 15K, 50K and a half marathon in addition to the virtual run.
This year, too, organizers have arranged to have two mascot uniforms made.
“We want the event to be more kid-friendly,” said Akins.
He said two sage rats will be posing with youngsters at the event, which covers the Sunnyside, Grandview and Prosser areas (depending on the length of race).
Participants each receive a finishing medal and tech shirts are included in the registration for specific races.
Runners are also being encouraged to dress as an ugly bug for a chance to win additional prizes, according to Akins. “We thought ugly bugs go with sage rats,” he said.
Volunteers are still being sought for the event. To volunteer, email organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sageratrun.com for more information.