Lace up your tennis shoes, drink plenty of water and get your game face on — it's time for runners to take on the 6th annual Wichita Gladiator Dash.
The Wichita Gladiator Dash is an action-packed 5K race complete with obstacles both on land and in water. Aside from running the distance, participants are also challenged to complete over 10 different obstacles throughout.
The Gladiator Dash, which takes place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 10 at Sedgwick County Park, is sponsored by Red Bull, Reddi Industries, Mountain Dew and Miller Lite. All proceeds go towards the Child Advocacy Center charity and Newman University Athletics.
“After the craze across the U.S. to do obstacle courses, we decided to make the Wichita Gladiator Dash,” said Associate Athletic Director Maureen Rohleder. The Newman Booster Club came up with the idea for the race, in the hopes that they could also raise money for the athletics department.
“Most people think that the Gladiator Dash is a fundraiser just to make money, but the proceeds we receive go to student scholarships and facility upgrades,” Rohleder said. “Plus, the Child Advocacy Center is a great charity we like to promote.”
Even though the event requires a great deal of planning and behind-the-scenes work, many people at Newman pitch in to help.
Rohleder’s job is to monitor the online registration, members of the Booster Club build the obstacles and fellow Associate Athletic Director Joanna "Jo" Pryor finds volunteers to work each station for the day of the event.
“We also take care of ordering t-shirts, awards and organize packets for runners to pick up,” Rohleder said. “Vic Trilli and other coaches even go out to the course on golf carts, filling gas cans and manning the water stations. It takes a lot of people to make the event possible.”
Around 1,200 participants sign up for the Gladiator Dash each year, and more than 1,000 people have signed up for this year’s race. Rohleder said this event tends to be more popular among the general public, but that doesn’t stop some Newman alums from participating as well.
Alumnus Wesley Williams said the Gladiator Dash is a great excuse for him to get back down to Wichita.
“Having spent over a year in Lawrence, I’ve missed my friends and the city,” Williams said. “This is my first 5K in years, and to add the obstacles to it will be even more interesting. And if I can get down there and participate in a great cause, all the better.”
“The Gladiator Dash is a fun event I look forward to each year,” said Head Softball Coach Janice Esses. Esses participated in the event last year and said that her favorite obstacle is running through the water.
“It is challenging, but also a great way to cool down,” Esses said. “Climbing up the big hill and over hay bales challenged my strength and endurance. I also like the Gladiator Dash because it’s like a big party. You get in a great workout, then you get to enjoy food, music and friends afterward.”
Participants must be 14 years old to enter the race and have a parent signature if under the age of 18.
Packets may be picked up at Newman University in the Gorges Atrium near the Fugate Gymnasium from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 9. Online registration closes after June 9, however, participants may still sign up at the day-of-event registration at Sedgwick County Park. (Please note that timing may not be available for day-of-event registrations.)
Beverages and food will be for sale at the event. There will be live DJ’s, prizes for best times (male and female) and slowest completed time. In addition, there will be a costume contest with a prize for the best dressed.