|Kennett Paper on 5/3/12:
3,000 expected to participate in 2012 Kennett Run
by Fran Maye
Mike Perna can see the day when the Kennett Run becomes so big, concessions will be needed from nearby municipalities to make it work.
Perna, who helped to form the Kennett run 23 years ago in cooperation with the Kennett Square Rotary Club, said the infrastructure of Kennett Square will allow for 5,000 or 6,000 participants. “Can it get too big for Kennett? I’d like to sayKennett can expand to fulfill the demands of the race,” Perna said.
Perna said he has been pleased with the success of the Kennett Run over the years, and with the charities that benefit from the race.
“The race has grown over the years on a steady basis,” Perna said. “We made quantum leaps about seven years. We had been growing by about 100 runners per year, but in the last two or three years, we are growing by two or three hundred runners.”
Perna said he expects this year’s race to draw more than 3,000 participants, especially if the weather is good.
The mission of the Kennett Run remains the same today as it was 23 years ago: to benefit local charities.
“When we formed (the Kennett Run), had three things in mind,” Perna said. “We wanted to bring groups together to work on a common project, we wanted to showcase the Kennett area, and we wanted to raise money for local charities.”
Hundreds of volunteers are needed to make the race happen. The Kennett Y’s Girls on the Run program utilizes 200 volunteers alone.
Perna said it doesn’t bother him that the prize money always goes to people who live outside the area, sometimes in other countries.
“We have always wanted to bring in elite runners,” Perna said. “We get people coming in from all areas, even from the Ivory Coast. I think it makes it more exciting. We have maybe 10 elite runners and 2,990 mere mortals, and that brings excitement.
And the Kennett Run is the only athletic event in the world where amateurs can compete with the world’s best. If somebody runs the Kennett Run and sets a record in the 10K, it stands. It’s a world’s record.”
The Kennett Run was one of the first professional races in the area to utilize chip timers.
“We’re state-of-the-art now,” Perna said. ‘I don’t think there’s any race that has better technology than the Kennett Run. It’s the same technology as the Boston Marathon or any of the other big city races.”
The Kennett Run has always being about aiding local charities.
“One of the things that makes our race different is that we do not donate to a specific cause,” Perna said. “When we envisioned this race, we wanted a broad base of local beneficiaries, Kennett borough and surrounding school districts. We give to countywide organizations, but target our gifts for beneficiaries within our region.”
The post-race party at Anson B. Nixon Park is for both participants and spectators. This year, healthier foods will be offered.
It (post-race party) brings people together,” Perna said. “We feed everybody. We don’t distinguish. The Kennett Run is structured to be a family event.”