The Sunday morning air was a mere 36 degrees as family members, students, alumni and avid runners jogged in place at the starting line to try and stay warm. 

“Alright everybody, we’ve got three minutes, so do your stretches,” Public Safety Lieutenant Jake Griffin shouted over the PA system. 

With just over 300 eager runners ready to go, fifth year Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management major Rachel Berry — the 5K volunteer organizer and day-of event coordinator — reminded the runners to make sure their bibs were in place and that members of the track team waited to guide them at turning points along the course. 

“Timers, are you ready? Runners, are you ready? Three, two, one!” she enthusiastically bellowed as the horn sounded. 

Off the runners went. For more than 10 years, people have participated in the Brick City 5K, according to Director of Residence Life Harold Fields.

“I think [my favorite part is] seeing how happy families and alumni are, to come back and see things that were here when they were here, [to] see each other, [to see] folks that they had a chance to interact with before and to wrap up Brick City weekend,” he said. 

Pre-Race Excitement

Wearing electric blue athletic pants, Ray Byerley stood out amongst the masses in Grace Watson Hall prior to the race’s start. He came to visit his “dearest, darling daughter” for homecoming weekend. Instead of taking her shopping, he decided to bear the cold and run. 

“It’s too cold for humans outside ... I had to wear all my free t-shirts just to stay warm enough,” he said. 

As Mike, Francesca and Penny Morrissey sat at Beanz awaiting the signal to head outside, the low temperatures weighed on their minds. Rather than let the cold get them down, it became their motivation. 

"We said if it's cold enough, it'll make us run faster," Francesca said. 

The Jermyn family huddled together for a group selfie while the 10 o’clock start time ticked closer. The Jermyns are a proud RIT family — Jay and Lorraine graduated back in 1992. Their son Alex got his degree in Imaging Science two years ago and Brandon is a current fifth year Mechanical Engineering Technology major. Their sister Kristin also ran with her fiancee Eddie. Since they live locally, they all decided to give the race a try.

“You’re closer to the three miles with every step.”

“It’s my very first run ever, ever, ever in my life, for a 5k race,” Lorraine said excitedly.

Even if it rained or snowed, Lorraine certainly wasn’t going to let the weather keep her from completing the race.

“I would’ve gone through with it,” she said.

Behind the Scenes

“We’ve been planning [the 5K] for about two months or so,” Berry said. 

Public Safety helps out each year as well. Griffin explained his role in the preparation and execution.

“I manage the security for it, so blocking off all the roads and making sure that it’s all set,” he said. “[It’s] kind of a task because they run through the entire campus so you have to have somebody at each intersection blocking them and all that.”

As people finished the race, their time, pace and speed were recorded. 

“Basically, there’s an RFID chip in the bibs, so when the runners cross the finish line, there’s [sensors] that pick up their times and that’s how we get the results,” said Patrick Byrnes, a fourth year Chemical Engineering major.

Byrnes owns and operates Spirit Timing, a service that provides the results of the 5K.

All of the organizations involved in the Brick City 5K play a crucial role in the event’s success.  

“Our goal is to get not only RIT students, but alumni [and] people in the community to come and feel connected to RIT. Also it’s a running event, so we brought in the health organizations because we really want to promote the services that we have,” Berry said.

The Center for Women and Gender and the Student Health center were among some of the groups tabling at the end. There were also setups offering snacks and free t-shirts to the finishers. 

At the Finish Line

Bent over and trying to catch his breath, Alex Jermyn finished first out of his family in 21 minutes and 39 seconds. 

“[I’m] trying to get back to my high school paces,” he said. 

The rest of the Jermyn clan wasn’t far behind. Lorraine ran with her daughter with a time of 36 minutes. She felt especially satisfied with her accomplishment.

“We did good! We paced together the whole time ... we didn’t have to stop at all,” Lorraine smiled.

"We didn’t have to stop at all."

When Byerly finished, he was disappointed by the lack of beer to greet him. 

“That’s the only reason to do a 5K, is for the beer at the end,” he said with a grin across his face.

Despite the lack of alcohol, Byerly was happy with his performance.

“I finished standing up, that’s the most important part,” he said.

Mike ran ahead of the girls, but overall the Morrissey family finished strong. Aside from the desire for mile markers along the way, Francesca thoroughly enjoyed the running. 

"You're closer to the three miles with every step," she said. 

The moral support from strangers and dedication of volunteers and the race’s staff all contributed to the event’s success.

“I think it went really well. Any problem that came up we had a ton of help coming around,” Berry said. 

Only a few registered entrants were deterred by the chilly temperatures, but those who came out were glad they did. Jay Jermyn said he’d certainly run again.

“[But] we’ll wait till it warms up for the next one,” he said.

Look out for an upcoming video about the event on Reporter's Youtube channel