Health & Fitness

Umoja 5K run a prelude to the Wichita Black Arts Festival

The Umoja 5K run will be held again this year, at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, in conjunction with the Wichita Black Arts Festival.

“Umoja,” meaning “unity” in Swahili, is one of the goals of the run, event organizer Jackie McPherson said.

“We wanted something to get the community healthy,” McPherson said. “We want to get them moving.”

The purpose of the run is to bring awareness to childhood obesity, McPherson said. “It’s a good family event to get exercise rather than sitting in front of the TV. We want to promote all-around good health.”

The run is the prelude to the Wichita Black Arts Festival, which is returning this year on Labor Day weekend after a cancellation last year due to a lack of money. Registration fees for the run go to benefit the festival, which provides an opportunity for families to get together and celebrate African-American heritage. The festival will be Sept. 1 to 3 at McAdams Park.

The course, which starts in Grove Park (Dr. Glen Dey Park), at 27th and Grove, winds through the park and goes down nature trails across Hillside and on the bike path behind Brooks Magnet Middle School.

McPherson said runners come back year after year for the unique nature of the course, in contrast with the many road races in town.

“Sometimes you get to see deer in the morning,” McPherson said. “It’s our route that is attractive to people.”

Afterward, people can stay for food, music and an award ceremony at the after-party. The top three finishers in each age group will receive a medal, as will the first-place overall finisher.

Last year, the event drew about 200 people, and this year, event organizers are hoping to make it even bigger. More than 150 have registered already, and McPherson said she expects more than 50 will register Saturday at the event.

“It’s a great fundraiser for the Black Arts Festival,” McPherson said. “We just like to have a good time.”

Race fees are $15 for adults and $12 for children ages 16 and younger in advance; on race day they rise to $25 and $20. To register, go to the website of the Wichita Black Arts Festival,, or register in person at First Gear at 111 N. Mosley or GoRun at 2350 N. Greenwich or 2556 N. Maize Road. For more information, call 316-258-4919.

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