Thursday, July 9, 2015

Great Race for Education is next week, pre-race activities alreay underway

Who is ready for a beach party?
Starting Monday, you may see people running around downtown Idaho Falls in the early morning and late afternoon looking through flowerbeds and on windowsills. If they appear agitated, it’s because they take The Great Race for Education quite seriously.

The race itself, which in seven years has become one of Idaho Falls’ biggest fund-raisers, is on Friday, but winning pre-race challenges in the four preceding days can give a team a big advantage.

In 2014, the Great Race netted nearly $35,000 for the Eastern Idaho Technical College Foundation, which distributes scholarships to EITC students. EITC Foundation Director Natalie Hebard said they have already collected $30,000 and that this could be the race’s biggest year ever.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Great Race is an event in which teams are given clues that lead them to different locations around downtown Idaho Falls, where they perform challenges. Once they've performed five challenges they head back to Snake River Landing. The first ten teams to return advance to the second round of challenges. How quickly teams get back to the finish line has a lot to do with how quickly they can decipher clues, which they receive over the cellphone from their team owners at base camp. Teams can also buy additional clues, with the proceeds going to the EITC Foundation's scholarship program.

The theme this year is Summer Beach Party (last year it was disco fever, the year before superheroes). Major sponsors are Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Mountain View Hospital and Snake River Landing.

The race's support in the community has grown dramatically. In 2010, once the expenses had been calculated, EITC Foundation reported proceeds from the race around $13,000. In 2013, the foundation came away with nearly $40,000.

This is Hebard’s second year at the helm (her predecessors were Melissa Bean and Michelle Ziel-Dingman), and she has instituted some things she saw were lacking last year. For instance, there will be bottled water at the finish line, laminated challenge cards on lanyards, and wristbands to keep party crashers from descending on Snake River Landing.

Although race day is in mid-July, the buildup starts in April with the Trashion Fashion Show at the city of Idaho Falls' Earth Day event. There is active promotion on social media, all with the goal of raising money and recruiting new teams.

Once the race is done, everyone enjoys food, music and a special rapport that comes from having done something really significant for the community.

Hebard said there is still time for anyone who wants to become a team owner to register. In addition to participating in the event, the $50 registration fee gets a team owner a t-shirt, swag bag, drink tickets and a catered meal.

Between now and race day, here are some deadlines and reminders:
• Team Owner pre-party is 5-7 p.m. Saturday at the Apple Athletic Club. The event is posted on Great Race Facebook page with details, please RSVP.
• Pre-race clues – Starting Monday and through Thursday, clues will be released at 7 a.m. each morning and again in the evening at 5 p.m. As in previous years, these will be released on Facebook and via text if you sign up for text alerts.
• Pre-race Facebook Auction – Thursday from 5:30 until 8 p.m. you can bid on items that will help you during the race.

If any teams are raising funds for clue money, Hebard would like to publicize them on the Great Race Facebook page. If you do not pre-purchase a clue package, please be aware you will be given only one clue after the completion of each challenge. This will limit your competitiveness in the race. Additional clues may be purchased for $50 per clue on race day.  Team owners can help you solve clues and can purchase the additional clues at base camp.

There will be new teams from Bank of Commerce, Ethel Boyes Elementary School, Progression and John L. Scott Real Estate competing this year. Hebard said today she can still take four more teams if some business or organization wants to put up $250 to register.

The winning team will get a $1,000 scholarship named after it, the second place team a $500 scholarship and the third place team a $250 scholarship.

The MCs of the event will be Mariha Berrett, EITC’s fire service testing coordinator, and Dusty Bee. Matt Balderree, owner of Celestial Imaging, will be filming the event with his drone. As usual, the clue master’s identity is being kept secret.

For more information call the EITC Foundation office at 535-5398.