By Robin Miller - Special to The Daily News
Emily Malina is used to running races.
The Montabella High School senior has been a standout runner on the cross country and track teams. She learned how to run races in a whole new way this summer after organizing and managing the Alma Run/Walk for Life race as her senior project.
The project gave her a basic understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of a race.
Malina’s independent nature was challenged as she learned to run the show and still ask for help and assign duties to others.
“Coordinating this race forced me to pay close attention to detail and put my trust in others and allow them to help,” she said. “This was my senior project, but there was no way I could have done it without the help of others. I definitely didn’t know as much as I thought I knew, and it was impossible to take care of every detail myself.”
Malina learned everything about organizing a race from getting toilet paper in park bathrooms and having water available at the finish to ordering medals and selecting the T-shirt color.
“There were so many details, so many elements I didn’t know about,” she said.
With about 60 participants, the Alma Run/Walk for Life 5K and half-mile fun run offered a variety of events for all skill levels and ages — from fitness novices to experienced runners and preschoolers to senior citizens.
Proceeds from the race benefit cancer research, education and advocacy and patient services in Gratiot County.
Malina’s classmates, friends, family and teachers came to support her, serving as event volunteers and participants. Her mentor, Dan Gibson, played an especially important role.
“I am so appreciative for the support of family, friends and the readiness of runners around the area to come participant in my race,” Malina said. “Mr. Gibson’s entire family helped me so much. His daughter, Megan, was like a second mentor.”
After enduring early-morning humidity, the relief of a gentle rain shower offered a cool, refreshing conclusion to the race at Pine River Park. Medals were awarded to the top three finishers in each age group with trophies given to the overall top male, female and master division winners.
Malina still has some senior project requirements to complete even though the race itself is finished. She will complete a portfolio containing documentation of the specific elements of coordinating the 5K and a research paper on the history and organization of the Boston Marathon.
After completing her project portfolio, she will give a PowerPoint presentation to a panel of three judges and her teacher.
Malina hopes organizing the race will help build her resume as she pursues a career working with people and developing new ideas. After high school, she would like to attend the University of Chicago to major in international relations and minor in history or a foreign language.
Robin Miller is an Edmore resident.