Unbeatable “Point-5k” Wins Big in its First Year
Can I do this? Am I ready?
On Sunday, September 22, 2019 at 4:00 p.m., Autism Society of Nebraska hosted an unforgettable event — a run for people who don’t like to run!
This first-time event gained momentum through social media and word-of-mouth buzz in downtown Lincoln in August and September. Fueled by an undeniably hilarious promotional campaign, which featured Facebook cat memes, and saccharine encouragement language “We know, you’re already worried and asking yourselves: ‘Can I do this? Am I ready?’ The answer is yes!”
Loaded with tongue-in-cheek humor and custom-made bright green swag for participants, the event attracted more than 500 participants and raised more than $15,000 for Autism Society of Nebraska. While many people from Nebraska’s autism community came to the event, a lot of people who were not necessarily personally connected to autism showed up to run, volunteer, or just show off goofy costumes.
“So much fun! Loved it,” wrote Angela Curran on the event’s Facebook page.
CAPTION: The crowd gathers in Lincoln’s Railyard District on Sunday, September 22, 2020. Many wore self-made tshirts, official “Unbeatable” tshirts, and 1980s-style “aerobics” costumes with flourescent sweatbands, wristbands, and anklebands. Photo: Rebekah Roberts.
No Winner Was Declared
It was a sunny Sunday and the city of Lincoln was looking for a reason to be happy as the Huskers football team just won its third game of the year the previous day. The Railyard district was fenced off and the jumbotron was playing a slideshow honoring the event sponsors, including The Mill Coffee & Bistro, Lincoln First Realty, Mosaic, and Tarnick Chiropractic.
The “run” was only 546 yards. The route wrapped around Q Street, Pinnacle Avenue, P Street, and Canopy.
The event’s emcee, Wendy Hamilton (who wore a bright magenta tank top and a lime green tutu), announced the beginning of the race. Some ran, some walked, some jogged, some danced.
As this race was not timed, no winner was declared.
Runners were greeted with signs and tables staffed by volunteers. One sign advertised a table where participants could grab a bag full of chocolate-covered espresso beans. The sign said “You’re going to need caffeine to get through the rest!” This was displayed at approximate yard marker 203. Participants may have a had yet another 340ish yards to run.
Other stops included a “carb loading station” with plentiful donuts, a “self-care station” staffed by a man in a fake white lab coat holding a single band-aid, a “napping station” with a bed and a lamp and a nightstand, and a “celebrate” station after the finish line with taffy candy in champagne flutes.
As afternoon turned to “golden hour,” the sun cast a magic glow over the yard and participants snagged selfies in front of the “step-and-repeat” banner, which did include a tiny red carpet.
As a nod to the “everyone gets a trophy” trope, each participant got a “medal” to wear around their necks.
A marching band played as the final runners walked casually across the finish line.
CAPTION: Participants in the Unbeatable 0.5K event run westward on Q Street in downtown Lincoln on Sunday, September 22, 2019. A marching band plays at the corner of Canopy and Q Streets. Photo: Rebekah Roberts.
After the “Run”
When the run was complete and the last straggler crossed the finish line, participants got another chance to enjoy one another’s costumes. One couple brought a dachshund dressed as a sunflower. One man wore a cardboard Jeep costume. One lady wore a hamburger costume. Wigs and facepaint adorned dozens of participants.
Awards were given out to…
- The largest team
- The participant with the “best” costume
- The youngest registered participant
- The oldest registered participant
- The team who traveled the farthest (a group from a suburb of Minneapolis!)
… and some random person whose ticket was drawn in a raffle.
Using the Railyard’s booming audio visual capabilities, Wendy Hamilton then emceed the silent auction, a tour de force through fun gifts donated by generous Lincoln-area businesses.
Loud music played as participants visited the restaurants and bars of the Railyard District. Bourbon Street offered a discounted authentic Louisiana-style shrimp boil basket. Beer and cocktails were available and enjoyed.
Looking around the crowd of 500+, it could not be denied: people were happy!
In the words of Unbeatable’s facebook fan, Patti Wenz:
“We had an awesome day!! It was my first race and 0.5k is my limit!”
CAPTION: ASN board members, volunteers, and independent contractors gather for a photo shoot before the Unbeatable 0.5K event. These people helped make the event a huge success! Photo: Ember Walker.
More event photos here:
Unbeatable 0.5K: The Run For The Rest of Us was a production of the Autism Society to Nebraska (ASN). All proceeds support the mission of ASN: To improve the lives of Nebraskans affected by autism. ASN is a 501c3 charitable non-profit organization. All gifts stay in Nebraska. For more information: autismnebraska.org
Article text by Kevin Mahler