With shoes laced, watches set, and legs stretched, runners lined up at the start line. With a jump, the runners were off, taking the first steps of their 5 kilometer journey.

Last Sunday, Oct. 15, MCLA proudly held the 40th Annual Sam Gomez Classic 5k Charity Road Race. Proceeds went to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, in Pittsfield, Mass.

The event honors the late Dr. Sam Gomez, a former MCLA philosophy professor and cross-country coach, and is put on through the combined effort of the Student Government Association (SGA) and Berkshire Running Center.

The Sam Gomez Race is one of the main responsibilities delegated to Victoria Munoz ‘19, executive vice president of SGA, and plays a significant role in a continuing tradition here in North Adams.

“He was an avid runner and a cross country coach as well,” said Munoz. “He always had this classic 5k race in the fall that would benefit a charity of his choosing in the community.”

This year’s charity was NAMI, which is one of the nation’s top mental health organizations that works to provide support, education and awareness about mental illness for everyone.

The Berkshire Running Center had runners register for the race both online and in the Amsler Campus Center an hour before the event. Admission was $22 and every participant received a free t-shirt and water bottle after the race.

SGA set up two water stations for runners during the race: one at the finish line in front of Hoosac Hall and the other at the two mile marker in front of the Armory. The race went around the College, looping around the entirety of both Church Street and Ashland Street.

Brianne O’Rourke ‘18, SGA’s class of 2018 representative and treasurer, and Fabby Bogardus-Street ‘20, SGA senator-at-large, operated the Armory water station.
“Last year we helped the Pittsfield Boys and Girls Club,” said O’Rourke. “We started around 8:30 with putting the signs out, the mile markers, we did the start line and the water stations. We’ve really been running around.”

The race began on the intersection of Pleasant Street and Church Street The ages of the 45 registered runners ranged dramatically. The oldest was a man over 70-years-old and the youngest was a baby pushed along in a stroller.

“We actually got Sam Gomez Jr.,” said Munoz after the race. “The son of Dr. Sam Gomez. He came out for the starting line, which was great. He’s normally a shy guy but it was really nice to see him and he was very thankful for everything we did.”

Coupled with the normal 5k, SGA held a raffle for student clubs as an incentive to participate. Club representatives needed only to take part in the race for a chance to add $100 to their club budget.

The raffle was won by Madison Taber ’20 of the American Sign Language club.
“I’m assuming we’re going to put it towards events, or books to help our club members learn more about ASL,” Taber said.