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Inside Events: Chanukah Run-a-Latke 5K

13 Dec, 2017

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
An Interview with Allie Vered, Race Director

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The Chanukah Run-a-Latke 5K is a family fun run originally created as a counterpart to the Christmas-centric 5Ks that pervade weekends nationwide in November and December. Since its inception, it has spread to various cities and has grown into an inclusive race with runners in costumes (wearing headgear ranging from reindeer antlers to menorahs). A menorah lighting is also held as are Chanukah activities, and the post-race party features latkes and donuts.

Sports Destination Management: This year marks the seventh year for the Chanukah Run-a-Latke. How did it start?

Allie Vered: My best friend’s husband and I came up with the idea. We were all living in Richmond at the time. When I moved to Boston, I started another race up here and it has kept growing.

SDM: So there are races in Boston and Virginia – where else is it offered?

Vered: There is one in Florida. This just started as just a little community race but it’s good to see others picking it up.

SDM: How did you come up with the idea?

Vered: We started it as a fund raiser for our kids’ day school around the Chanukah season. We realized there wasn’t much for Jewish people.

SDM: Was it hard to get the event started?

Vered: Well, it’s funny; our rabbi didn’t think it would work but we just said, ‘Hey, Jewish people run too!’ It was a way for us to celebrate with the whole community. Now, we put it on for our synagogue and they use it for tuition reimbursement for scholarships for the summer camp program.

SDM: Is it mostly Jewish runners who participate?

Vered: No – we have a lot of non-Jewish people! We’re seeing all kinds of runners – people wearing reindeer antlers on their heads, a guy dressed as a menorah, another dressed as a latke, people dressed as dreidels, people wearing jingle bells, people wearing tutus. Everyone comes together for it.

SDM: What’s the post-race party like?

Vered: We serve latkes and donuts; it’s a big holiday party. We have a bouncy house for the kids so that parents can leave them and go running, then come back and celebrate with them. We light the menorah too.

SDM: The event offers special family pricing. Do you see a lot of families?

Vered: Yes, it’s really a family fun run.

SDM: The turkey trots and the Christmas races always leverage running as a healthy alternative to all the holiday food. Does your event use that angle too?

Vered: Absolutely – it is held between Christmas and Thanksgiving so we always tell people they can run off the pounds.

SDM: What is your publicity strategy like? Obviously it’s not the same scope as a major marathon, but you have some unique niche communities you want to reach.

Vered: We generally start in August. We put the information on runner websites, social media, publicize it in the synagogues and of course we also use word of mouth. I have some friends who write running columns. There are a lot of places like JewishBoston and so on that will pick it up.

SDM: It is professionally managed.

Vered: We have used North Shore Timing for timing and registration for the last seven years. People do sign up in advance, but we also see a lot of, and sometimes a majority of, same-day registration.

SDM: It makes a nice contrast to all the reindeer runs this time of year.

Vered: It’s definitely unique! There really hadn’t been a lot of Jewish sports activities associated – it is good to be able to provide one.

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