Over 2000 participants, ranging from local business owners to middle school athletes laced up their running or walking shoes this past Saturday morning for the 28th Annual Diploma Dash City 5K Championship.
As some people warmed up and stretched at the starting line, others leashed up dogs for a morning jog or pushed baby strollers to the back of the crowd. Hosted by the Alumni Association, the event received a proclamation from the city of San Antonio making it an official city-wide event.
“I like to run all San Antonio 5Ks but this is my first Diploma Dash,” runner, Ina said about the race.
Several firsts happened this past Saturday due to a change in the course outline.
“This year the course has changed because of the parking garage that is being built,” said Alumni Association Director Jim Mickey. “If they finish top three in their age group, they’ll set a new course record.”
The top times for males this year were Jeremy Daum with 15:47, Jose Munoz with 15:31 and Chass Armstrong with a winning time of 15:27. For females it was Devin Clark with 19:06, Denise Reus with 18:13 and Emily Loeffler with a winning time of 17:47.
UTSA’s own Air Force ROTC team came in second overall with a combined time of 1:34:15 with our top student times coming from Carl Novan with 16:48 and Arieal Davis with 21:08. Along with the medals handed out to race winners, the Alumni Association also issues thousands of dollars in scholarships to UTSA students.
“Historically the first scholarship was a $250 book scholarship in 1992,” said Mickey. “Last year we awarded $72,000, so this year the goal is to actually give out over $100,000.”
With the assistance of several local businesses and franchise corporations, the Alumni Association hopes to systematically increase the amount of scholarship money they give out each year.
“Time Warner is our title sponsor this year and HEB has also stepped up from last year with Liberty Mutual,” said Mickey. “Silver Eagle is donating all the beer. Outside of that, we have Run Wild Sports and the City of San Antonio has also done something for the first time.”
The Alumni Association also partnered with Road Runners 4 Life and FTK(For the Kids), who also had a team participate in the race, in promoting the event around the campus and city. With their help, student involvement in the race increased from 200 students last year to over 600 students with about 500 of those being current UTSA undergrads.
Several other businesses participated in the event including NIX Health Care, Roger Soler Sports, Minute Rice, Perricos, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union and Hampton Bodywerks.
“We’re trying to work as much as possible with alumni related businesses,” said Mickey. “One of the things we try to do is be the gateway back into the university for alums to connect however they can.”
Alongside the businesses promoting their specific products was a friendly staff of volunteers helping with everything from registering runners to handing out water, breakfast tacos and hot dogs. Sharon Beyer, a graduate student in the public administrations program, enjoyed her first year at Diploma Dash handing out prizes to children.
“I joined two honor societies and we volunteer at events like these,” said Beyer. “Today we got to man the booth for HEB’s Children’s Wellness program.”
The concept of wellness also resonates with Jim Mickey as he looks to the future of Diploma Dash.
“I’d like to work closer with city leaders to promote the event,” said Mickey. “Ultimately the more involvement we have the more money that ends up going back to the students.”