The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
It was Amber Oleksy’s final 5K race before she reaches a different milestone in her life, and she was determined to make it count.
“This is Baby’s first 5K,” said the three-months pregnant Oleksy, of Port Neches. “I came out here wanting to at least win my age group.”
Oleksy exceeded her own expectations. Of all the females who participated in the BASF Total Live United 5K Run/Walk at Port Neches Park, 600 Grisby Drive, on Saturday, she crossed the finish line second with a time of 22:35, at a pace of 7 minutes and 20 seconds per mile.
“It’s not my best, but it’s good enough,” said Oleksy, 26, a Spanish teacher and cross-country coach at Port Neches-Groves High School.
Although temporarily out of commission, Oleksy plans to lace up her running shoes “as soon as possible” after giving birth. She has already purchased a running stroller to instill the value of exercise in her child.
“We’re hoping the baby’s a scholar athlete,” Oleksy said.
Oleksy’s teammate, Ryan Kelly, also produced an impressive showing for the Mid-County Run Club. The Bridge City native placed first male overall with a time of 16:35 — which, his teammates say, is a bad day for him. But after taking in account that Kelly was running with both a cold and in his roommate’s shoes, his feat seems even more momentous.
“My shoes are heavy,” said Kelly, 23. “These are like four ounces. They’re light.”
This is the fourth year that the United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County has partnered with BASF Total to sponsor the Live United 5K and Kids 1K, said Carol Hebert, manager for community and government relations at BASF. BASF sponsors all expenses, and the proceeds from the application fees go to the United Way.
“The United Way is an organization that touches a large number of individuals within the community,” Hebert said. “We think their outreach is a good match for what we’re trying to do.”
This year, the event saw its largest turnout yet with 359 runners, said Janie Johnson, director for the United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County. Although the final numbers won’t be in until Monday, she projected more than $15,000. But, Johnson said, you can’t put a price on community involvement and healthy living.
“The 5K definitely does encourage and promote healthy lifestyles, and it also puts that focus on adventures and family recreation,” Johnson said. “We had some serious runners; we had some not-so-serious walkers. It’s so interesting and unique to find an event that pulls from so many different areas.”