On Sunday, December 9th, seven VIU students and staff ushered in the holiday season at the Jingle All the Way 8K Race. The race was held in downtown Washington, DC and included over 4,000 participants. Participants ran past the monuments the Capitol, and other DC landmarks. Even on a chilly and damp December morning, the racers were cheerful and excited, running to benefit the local Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization which builds homes for people in need.

VIU students’ participation in the race was organized by the Office of Student Affairs and entry was sponsored by the university, one of its many initiatives to promote student spirit and support the local community.

“The most memorable part of my time with VIU would be the Jingle All the Way 8K race. It was very generous of VIU to pay for my registration,” said participant Shareefa Basheer Ahamed. “It was a personal achievement for me to run 5 miles in an hour and 7 minutes. It was all the more fun because it was a group effort. Crammed into the backseat of a small car driving to DC, warming up on a windy December morning, and running along with total strangers cheering us all the way , motivating each other to the finish; these are memories that will last a lifetime! Thank you Student Affairs team, VIU, the runners and the supporters (Connie and El Hassen) for the incredible experience. Up next – half marathon!!!”

Tiffaney Hickman agreed, “The 8k Jingle All the Way race was amazing! It was definitely a great bonding experience with the VIU students and staff. Everyone was so encouraging and excited that it helped accelerate the momentum even more. It was very exciting and inspiring to see all the runners and VIU get into the holiday spirits with costumes, juggling, and dancing. I am proud of all the VIU students and staff for putting their best foot forward! Kudos of VIU for thinking of this event, and I hope we do another one soon!”

“Completing the 8k showed me that I can accomplish more than what I ask of myself.  From the onset of the race I challenged myself to keep running no matter how slow the pace. Each mile that I completed was a testament to how faith and determination will literally take you a long way. The best part about completing the race was sharing the accomplishment with dear coworkers and students from VIU. This experience has caused me to truly feel that I am a part of the team,” said Carla Jackson, an ESL faculty member.

“Participating in the 8K race was such a wonderful experience, and running along with the VIU team makes it even more fun,” said Stanley Ejecki, “At first, I wouldn’t have participated on my own, but surrounding myself with positive minded people at VIU gave me that extra motivation that I needed. Now I feel like an athlete and look forward to participating in similar future events. It was an honor representing our great university and a privilege to identify with such a great course for humanity. That is the effect VIU brings, creating an enabling environment that impact knowledge alongside good virtues.”

Through a Student’s Eyes: Folarin Olajide

“The runners all came out in colorful attires; there were running elves, juggling Santas, running reindeer and even men running in suits. The VIU team was ably represented by Yanisse, Shareefa, Tiffaney, Carla, Dixon, Stan and my humble self, Folarin. We were there earlier to check in at the take-off point and also collect our bibs, which had our numbers displayed as well as an embedded microchip to monitor our performance.

There was a DJ playing Christmas songs nearby and looking around, you can feel the euphoria. The audience, consisting mostly friends and family members were charged up and ready to cheer the runners to victory.

The announcer instructed us to take our positions and the race started at 9:15am. Due to the large number of runners, many of us including myself had to start slow by walking until we had a clear path to run. It was a sight to behold, as you could clearly see the colorful crowd running all the way down the streets of DC towards the Capitol. We made a really long and colorful snake-line. The spectators were cheering on the Juggling Santa, a runner seen pushing two babies, the running reindeers, running elves all tied together, running suit men,  a running couple in their sixties, the list goes on.  By the time we reached the 2nd milestone, many runners were fatigued.

Thankfully, there were helpers on hand to hand out cups of water! The DC Metro Police was also there to guide and monitor the traffic and paramedics were present in case anything went wrong.

We all did our best and ran fast, hoping to at least get a good finish position; however the run was for charity and not competition. We came to the finish line, having run the whole 5 miles with average run time of one hour and thankfully, no one fell down or crumbled from exhaustion.

It was really a memorable event, and VIU was ably represented by our team. We were all proud to be part of history; VIU’s first running team. Looking back, I would gladly do it all over again.”