NORTH SMITHFIELD – Town residents and seasoned runners from across the region will once again hit the streets in North Smithfield this spring, thanks to a town tradition that’s been revived for a second year in a row by a graduating high school senior.
North Smithfield High School student Cole Vowels will put on the Northmen 5K on Saturday, April 29 as part of his senior project, fulfilling a graduation requirement while raising funds for the North Smithfield Athletic Association.
The 5K walk/run, first held as a fundraiser for the NSAA in 2011, takes participants on a 3.1-mile route starting in front of the entrance to the parking lot of the high school basketball courts and turf complex on Providence Pike, and ending on the track of Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The event initially attracted hundreds of runners, and was held again from 2013 through 2016, but saw declining participation. And in 2017, the organization, which supports the school’s athletic programs, chose a different fundraiser.
The race was brought back in 2022 by Calla Puccetti, an athlete with the North Smithfield High girls’ cross country team, as her senior project.
Vowels, also a student athlete, notes that while growing up in town, he had always run the race with friends.
“After being out of the running for some time, Calla was able to revive the race last year for her senior project,” Vowels said. “When I found out that Calla was bringing it back, I was thrilled to be participating again.”
Pucetti’s 2022 race benefitted veteran organization Operation Stand Down and raised nearly $15,000. Following the successful event, NSHS Senior Project Coordinator Lyndsay Aromin made it known that she was looking for someone to continue the tradition.
“Over the summer I gave it some thought and came up with a few other ideas, but ultimately decided to continue the race,” Vowels said.
He noted that students are required to compete a total of 15 hours of fieldwork as part of the NSHS graduation requirement, but he expects to come close to doubling that. Vowels is collaborating with the NSAA, along with other town groups including the school department, the recreation department, the fire and police departments, and municipal offices on planning.
“This project takes a lot of time and dedication, and I want to put on the best event possible,” he said.
That work begins with finding sponsors, and the senior is now in the process of looking for businesses willing to help with race day costs such as the timing company, t-shirts, refreshments and more. He will also need many volunteers to help keep the event on track, so to speak, on race day. Those interested in volunteering should contact the student at email@example.com.
The Northmen 5K will take off at 9 a.m. by North Smithfield Middle School on Saturday, April 29. Registration for the event costs $25, or $20 for students and veterans, at https://racewire.com/register.php?id=13444. The timed race will include prizes for the top runners.
Those who can’t participate but would like to make a donation can do so via the registration link.