By Hannah Langley ’21
It was a beautiful Saturday morning at Providence College when hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and family gathered early in the morning to run the Friar 5k. Standing amongst all the commotion, one could truly feel the excitement and energy in the air.
As the horn blared and the marching band began to play, signaling the start of the race, the crowd surged forward in one big wave. The sound of cheering, feet hitting the pavement, and hearts pounding filled the air, everyone united by a common goal—to finish the 3.1 mile run.
The Friar 5k began eight years ago as an initiative to help fund the National Alumni Association Scholarship, an honorary scholarship given to a select few students every year. This year, the event was sponsored by numerous organizations, including United Natural Foods, the Bentley Foundation, United Healthcare, Slam Collaborative, and Federal Hill Pizza, who provided an Italian dinner the night before the race in McPhail’s.
Starting at the front entrance of Harkin’s and ending on the Ray Treacy track, the runners and walkers were taken on a tour through, not only the city surrounding the school, but through much of campus itself. Father Brian Shanley, O.P. ’80, noted his excitement about this, saying, “This is the first time we’ve run that much through the campus…we want people to see what we’ve done.” Student volunteers and sports teams lined up along the streets to cheer people on, and many people also flooded from their residential homes to support, watch, and applaud everyone who ran past.
Since its beginning, the race has continued to grow in popularity. This year over 600 students registered, along with several hundred others, including faculty and an overwhelming number of alumni. There were alumni represented from several decades, either taking part in the run or just coming to support the school and everyone involved.
One particular couple, members of the classes of 2002 and 2003, met when they were students here. They are now happily married and have two kids, one of whom was pushed in a stroller by her mom for the whole race. They have come to the event since it began eight years ago, and when asked why they like to come, their answer was simple, “We wish we still went to school here… [it’s] our chance to reminisce.”
This desire to revisit the school and remember their past experiences at PC is why so many alumni remain involved and active in the school’s events and fundraisers, including this one.
The race was followed by a series of events on Slavin Lawn, such as a Dunkin’ Donuts game, autographed team pictures by members of the Providence College Men’s Basketball Team, an inflatable obstacle course, and refreshments all around. This fun-loving, exciting atmosphere is what has made the Friar 5k such a popular annual event during PC’s St. Dominic’s Weekend celebration.
Coach Ed Cooley, head coach of the men’s basketball team, noted, “St. Dominic’s Weekend, a lot of alums come back…I just like the energy and excitement around… it’s a common gathering where people smile.”
This overall sense of community is what struck everyone at the event and what has made people look forward to it year after year. As Fr. Shanley said, “[The race] brings together the community… there’s a bunch of alums here, students, faculty, staff… [it’s a] day to celebrate the community.”
The event was not only exciting for returning members of PC, but for freshmen as well. As hundreds of freshmen ran through the streets and on campus with their families and newly made friends, they too were aware of the strength of the community. As put by Kelly Galeota ’21, “not only [was the race] a great way to be part of the Providence College community, but to be part of the community around us…we became one.”
It is this overarching idea and feeling of unity and commonality among all the members of the race and the surrounding neighborhoods in Providence that has made the race such a fun experience. The Friar 5k continues to be an event to look forward to every year, even after graduation.