All proceeds go to Living Journeys
By Than Acuff
Much like the turning leaves signal the start of fall, so too does Emma Coburn’s annual Elk Run 5k fundraiser for Living Journeys, and this year the seventh edition of the Elk Run falls on Saturday, September 30.
Over its first six years the event has raised $265,000 for Living Journeys, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance, emotional support and enrichment programs to Gunnison Valley residents affected by cancer.
Just like every year, Emma Coburn is in the midst of her professional steeplechase season having just wrapped up the World Championships and is currently sidelined with a torn hamstring. But that hasn’t slowed her down when it comes to the Elk Run 5k, and this year Emma is looking to keep that fundraising energy in place, but with a more local and personal feel as the Coburns and CB community lost grandmother, mother, wife and friend Annie Coburn to cancer this past year.
“I want this year to be a chance to remember and celebrate all of the people Living Journeys have helped throughout the years,” says Emma. “I want this day to be successful and fun because last year my mom was here smiling and dancing. This one is a little more special than previous years.”
The event remains the same as past years with a 5-kilometer run starting at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Third Street and Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte. Participants will run through town and out Peanut Lake Road before turning back around and returning to the finish line back at Third and Elk.
In 2018 the event expanded to include a high school cross-country meet prior to the start of the Elk Run 5k and attracted seven teams and 100 runners. This year Emma and Crested Butte Titans cross-country coach Shari Sullivan-Marshall expect to see as many as 17 teams bringing in close to 300 high school runners for the race.
“High school cross-country is a really hard sport, and it can be lonely out there running on your own,” says Emma, who grew up here running for the Titans. “Hopefully we’re adding a little bit of fun to help make these kids enjoy running a little more and enjoy cross-country a little more.”
Emma admits that running wasn’t always fun back when she was in high school, and she hopes that an event such as the high school race at the Elk Run 5k will help foster a love of running for high school students.
“I didn’t like running back then, but it was out on the Lower Loop and Peanut Lake Road where things changed,” says Emma. “That’s literally the place I started to love running, out Peanut Lake Road. When you can find fun in running, the joy and beauty in running, that’s really special.”
Registration for the in-person race is open until the day before the race and there will be a meet and greet with Emma and packet pick up at the Center for the Arts outdoor stage on Friday, September 29, 3–6 p.m.
The high school races start with the girls at 8:30 a.m. and the boys high school race at 9:20 a.m., the Elk Run 5k kicks off at 10 a.m. Then, the party starts as ‘80s cover band The Goonies takes over Third and Elk until 3 p.m.
If you can’t be here for the race but still wish to support Living Journeys, there is a virtual race option as well complete with all the registration race swag. So you can run your Elk Run 5k in California, New York, Paris, Des Moines or wherever you are and still help raise money for Living Journeys. Registration for the virtual race closes on Monday, September 11 so organizers can get your race swag to you in time for your virtual race.
Registration and information about Emma Coburn’s Elk Run 5k can all be found at elkrun5k.com.
“This year, for me, it was important to have it honor my mom and bring the community together,” says Emma.