Race Against Hate Recap
Every day I drive through Evanston on my way to work, and for years, I have seen orange signs advertising the Race Against Hate. It has always intrigued me as a run to do, but my schedule had never worked out to participate. I was lucky that this year’s race fit perfectly into my schedule.
The Race Against Hate’s history dates back to 2000 when the family and friends of Ricky Byrdsong, who was murdered by a white supremacist while walking with his children in Skokie, united to honor his legacy, love of sports, work with the community youth, and most importantly, to combat hatred. I am fortunate to work with a woman (and fellow runner) whose mother, Mary Ann Moseley, had been trying to recruit Ricky’s Wife, Sherialyn, to be the Athletic Director at her children’s middle school. Her plan changed after Ricky was shot. She reached out to Sherialyn to ask her if she would be interested in starting a 5K to raise money for the Byrdsong Foundation, while also continuing Ricky’s work and dedication to youth and sports. The race in its first iteration in 2001 was built by dedicated volunteers like John Corrigan, Joan Beadle, Chris Memeth, and Moseley’s own children. Moseley sites that the time her children put it volunteering signifies the spirit of the race and how it was a true project of the community. The race is now run by the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, and there is no question that the race embraces everyone and delivers a powerful message of unity, champions diversity, builds character, and challenges hate with every mile that has been run or walked over the past 20 years.
Race morning was cool and overcast, so the conditions were pretty ideal for running (even though I would prefer June to feel a bit more like summer). Parking was a runner’s dream, as I easily found a spot around the corner from the start line. The race starts and ends at Long Field in Evanston. There was a fantastic set up on the field where the sense of community was evident, both pre- and post-race.
The race boasts a 10K, 5K, and a Youth Mile. The 10K runners took off first, getting about a 20-minute head start on us 5Kers. As far as a 5K CARA Certified course goes, you really could not ask for a better one. It is a fast and flat course along Evanston’s lakefront. It was a welcomed break from running along the lakefront in the city as I was able to take in some different scenery. There is sometimes something comforting about not knowing where you are running. I enjoy just following the signs, the volunteers' directions, and racers in front of me while taking in all around me. The race course included fantastic support from Evanston Township High School’s cheer squad, people from Northwestern, and most noticeably, many young kids screaming for their dad on Father’s Day.
Over 4,500 runners and walkers of all ages would agree with me in saying that the Race Against Hate is one to put on your summer calendar. No matter your pace or distance on race morning, the impact of the miles logged is immeasurable.