It’s That Time of Year Again to Don Your Running Shoes and Join in the Kiwanis Clubs All-Comers Track Meet!

Let’s be fair, the Kiwanis Club of Bainbridge Island is oftentimes overshadowed by its big brother – the Rotary Club, which just wound up its annual Auction and Rummage Sale this past weekend – but its members are no less committed to serving the community in myriad ways.

One of its signature annual events – The All-Comers Track Meet – begins tonight, July 8, at the Bainbridge High School track. Registration for the free event – aimed for runners of all ages – begins at 5:30 p.m., with races starting at 6 p.m. The club will hold the meet at the same time and place every Monday evening through August 12.

“We like the openness and the track at (the high school),” says John Jay, a long-time Kiwanis member and the Club’s current President, who has been involved in helping to organize the meet for the past dozen years or so. “It’s a huge family event. We get 200 to 400 people (coming out) every Monday.”

The track meet includes 50, 100 and 100- and 400-meter dashes, a 50- and 100-meter hurdles event, a 4 x 100-meter relay, and the mile run that “everyone” can participate in. “The objective,” adds Jim Copen, chair of the event, “is to try and run to your predictive time, which each runner writes down beforehand.”

“As the season goes by, we tally up the winners and give them a medal,” adds Jay. “The kids love seeing their names in the newspaper.”

Former Bainbridge High School cross-country coach Paul Benton, serves as the All Comers Meet race director, handling the mechanics of staging the individual events, with Kiwanis members serving in a support role.

Kiwanis All Comers Track Meet images courtesy of the Bainbridge Kiwanis ClubThe meet is sponsored by Bainbridge Senior Living, West Sound Physical Therapy and Windermere/Chris Miller, along with a dozen other smaller sponsors, says Miller, himself a Kiwanian. The sponsorship dollars help “offset the cost of doing the event and allows us to keep it free,” he explains. “We do these events to bring people together, not necessarily for profit.”

“Kiwanis is about kids,” adds the club’s former president Hank Keaton, echoing the international organization’s motto of “Improving the World, One Child, one Community at a Time”.

At the All Comers Track Meet, he says, “you’ll see kids and families and lots of blankets and picnic (dinners) spread out… And (most of) the parents run.”

The meet is truly for all ages. Thus far, the oldest person who regularly shows up was an 84-year-old man from Bremerton, who has gone out of his way out of his way to get to the meet. In the past, he has taken the Bremerton ferry to Seattle, and then hopped aboard the Bainbridge bound ferry from Seattle, Jay recounts, “and we pick him up and take him to the meet.” He then does the reserve commute to return home.

Kiwanis All Comers Track Meet 9 images courtesy of the Bainbridge Kiwanis ClubPerhaps the most entertaining participants are a bunch of two-year-olds, who run and jump over miniature hurdles. “It’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen,” says Miller, sporting a broad smile and laugh.

Then there is the annual appearance of a Bainbridge accountant, who runs along while pushing a stroller with his granddaughter inside accompanied by his own daughter. “It’s something people really look forward to,” says Jay of the meet.

Among the 450 Kiwanis Club’s in the Bainbridge outfit’s region, the All-Comers Track Meet has been recognized in year’s past as one of the top 10 “significant events” clubs’ stage throughout the year.

“Jim (Copen) did a superb job of writing up our event,” Jay explains, noting that the club’s effort in previously attracting the district’s Lieutenant Governor, who showed up an event last year to honor the Bainbridge group.

Besides the All-Comers Track Meet, the 20-plus member Kiwanis Club – which meets every Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. at the Boys & Girls Club in the Coppertop Business Park – the non-profit organization also holds a number of other events during the course of the year.

For more information on Kiwanis visit: Kiwanis Club of Bainbridge Island – Kids Need Kiwanis

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