2nd Annual Berks Distance Festival Saturday May 31

Runners are warming up, and food, fun, and music are prepared for Daniel Boone’s 2nd Annual Berks Distance Festival on Sat., May 31, beginning at 6 p.m.

Berks County’s only distance festival will take place once again under the stadium lights at the Daniel Boone High School in Birdsboro. The first race of the night -- the 1600 Meter -- will begin at 7:30 p.m., and will be followed by the Kids 400 Meter Fun Run, the 800 Meter, the new race of the 4x400 Coed Relay (two girls & two boys), and the 5K Run at 9 p.m.

All kids that are paid to participate in the Kids 400 Meter Fun Run will receive a ribbon.

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The top three gender finishers in the 800 and 1600 meters, and the top three teams in the Relay, will receive medals. The top runner per gender in the 5K Run will receive $150 cash, and the top first, second, and third finishers per gender, and per age group, will receive medals.

Registration will begin at 6 p.m., with fees ranging from $25 to $30, which includes receiving a timing device that will attach to a shoe of each runner.

Early registrants will receive water bottles imprinted with “Berks Distance Festival.”

Festival organizers Aaron and Michelle Durso, Birdsboro, said the festival has become the school district’s primary annual fundraising event for the Cross Country and Track & Field teams.

For 2014, the fundraising event has already surpassed last year’s festival with more than $5,000 raised from 21 sponsors.

Aaron, also Birdsboro Borough manager, said one of the event’s largest sponsor has been J.P. Mascaro & Sons, Reading, who has donated $1,000 the last five years. Michelle said the festival has become crucial to paying the Middle School and High School teams’ annual expenses of $5,000, instead of working smaller fundraisers throughout the year.

She said the school district does pay the teams’ transportation costs to meets and invitationals but not uniforms or other expenses.

The team has funded $8,000 in uniform costs the last four years as team participation has increased.

It also pays the athletes’ hotel room expenses at county and state invitationals.

“Invitationals are a better competition [than meets], and the runners’ times go up,” said Aaron. “We’re seeing the program progress, and it’s important to get them into the competitive level [with other schools’ top athletes].”

The Runner’s High, Grove City, will provide the computerized timing results posted at http://www.runhigh.com

Refreshments will be available to all race finishers and also for purchase.