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Despite COVID and rain, Bootjack Fun Run perseveres

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette- Racers including Danielle Davis of Bootjack, her 4-year-old children Natalie and Annabelle, Rita Krans and John Croze set off at the start of the Supermini race during the second annual Bootjack Fun Run Saturday.

BOOTJACK — Despite the COVID-19 epidemic, Saturday’s second annual Bootjack Fun Run drew about 150 runners.

Thunderstorms earlier in the morning may have turned away some of the 180 paid runners. However, the rain let up for most of the races, creating what runners said was a comfortably cool environment.

Because the U.P. has advanced to Phase 5 of the state’s reopening plan and it’s an outdoor event, there was less risk involved, said organizer John Croze.

“Our course here, and using the Dreamland (Restaurant & Bar) just set it up perfectly for social distancing,” he said. “Even in the rain, it was a great event, and everyone was so happy.”

Co-organizer Rita Krans said the top comment from participants was “Everything got canceled, and we’re so grateful we had this to count on.”

Proceeds go to a different local charity each year. This year’s goes to White City Park.

“After the Father’s Day Flood, it seemed like everyone at the Copper Country started flocking out to beaches like White City to enjoy the beautiful Lake Superior,” Croze said. “I just wanted to put a donation out there that affected everyone out there in the Copper Country.”

The back of the commemorative T-shirts for the run honored Bill Fezzey, a longtime Houghton teacher who died earlier this year. An avid runner, he had participated in the inaugural race. Patty Fezzey, Bill’s wife, made a donation in his memory.

“It was a huge part of our success this year,” Krans said.

Races include a 9.06-kilometer walk/run and the mini, half that length. This year also saw the introduction of the Supermini race, .906 kilometers — a little more than half a mile.

“Next year we’re going to style it as the Superhero Supermini, so we’re going to encourage superhero themes – capes and masks,” Krans said.

David Beaudette, a Copper Country native from Greenville, Wis., came with his children Brooklyn, 8, Payton, 6, and Cameron, 4,

“Our family’s from here and it’s just good to get out with family and friends,” he said.

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