Spider Dash

Spiders take the scenic route

March 12, 2024


As the late February sun began to creep out over the Forum, participants began arriving for the second annual Spider Dash 5K. Dressed in shades of red and blue, some pushed strollers, others donned Spider Man costumes, and many wore bright new running shoes. They stretched and chatted with neighbors until the countdown finished and the jogging mass was off.

“We talked for years about doing a 5K on campus,” said Heather Sadowski, director of health promotion. “We have a corporate race for faculty and staff but wanted to expand it to include students.”

1992 alum Sean Healy, Liz Brennan, and 1991 alum Chuck Lycett met WebstUR at the Spider Dash.

The idea of a course showcasing the beautiful landscape of UR and an opportunity to gather as a community once participants crossed the finish line was a no-brainer.

“I was walking on campus one day in the spring,” said Kirsten McKinney, director of marketing for campus operations. “Dogwood petals were floating out across the lake, and I saw people from around the campus community running.” McKinney was inspired, and several other staff members who wanted to participate started running the campus to develop a course.

The event, designed with accessibility in mind, appeals to those who want to enjoy a brisk Saturday morning walk, long-distance runners looking to train, and everyone in between. 

A few key changes brought in nearly 530 registrants this year, twice as many participants as the inaugural 5K.

“We moved the race earlier in the morning and early in the spring,” said Laura Dietrick, director of benefits and employee well-being. “And we more than doubled our sign-ups.”

Alumni were invited this year for the first time to participate along with students, faculty, staff, and their families. Traveling from as far as Chicago and upstate New York, 59 Spider alums joined the fun.

Chuck Lycett, a 1991 grad, found out about the race from an alumni email and decided to catch a men’s basketball and lacrosse game later that day. He traveled with his girlfriend from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and they met up with Clayton Dean, a 1994 alum, and 1992 grad Sean Healy, two of his fraternity brothers. The group met other alumni along the way as they set out for a brisk walk.

“We were trying to keep up with the older couple in front of us,” Lycett said. “The wife just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.  “We reminisced about our experiences around campus and discussed all the changes around campus.”

As participants sprinted, jogged, or walked across the finish line, a DJ spun tunes, and the finish line was transformed into an impromptu all-ages dance party. Then participants were invited to refuel with a large breakfast of fresh berries, eggs, and pancakes at D-Hall  

“One of our goals was to bring many different sectors of campus together,” Sadowski said. “And to promote one of the guiding lights of President Hallock’s strategic plan — well-being.”