Renee and Jon Fortier push their boys Nolan, left, and Dalton toward the finish line Sunday during the One in Five 5K run in Oakland. The annual event benefits the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

OAKLAND — The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center, located in Winthrop, held its 10th annual One in Five 5K run on Sunday, with virtual and in-person options for runners. 

This year’s race was especially meaningful because the COVID-19 pandemic forced last year’s event to be entirely virtual.

All proceeds of the event, whose sponsors include the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal, go toward the center and its services, according to organizers.

The name, One in Five 5k, represents the estimated one in five Mainers who experience sexual violence, and the goal is to bring attention to survivors and show them support in Maine, according to Maeghan Maloney, president of the board of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center who is also the district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties.

“We’re running for the one, the person who is a victim of sexual assault, to bring awareness to the community and make sure that people know there is a group that they can turn to 24/7,” Maloney said. The support center serves Kennebec and Somerset counties

Keeping with that message, most of the paper bibs runners wore white, but one in every five was blue to represent victims in Maine.

This year, the center changed several factors of the race to ensure it would be safe for participants, according to Jenna McCarthy, associate director of the center. The changes included a new location and route. In the past, the run began at Thomas College on West River Road in Waterville, but this year the school is not yet hosting large gatherings because of the pandemic.

Instead, the race began at the FirstPark business park, off Kennedy Memorial Drive in Oakland. Runners were required to wear protective masks before and after the race, and all organizers or officials had been fully vaccinated and wore masks.  

“There was a lot of planning that went into the race,” McCarthy said. “We really wanted to make sure that it was a safe event and that we were able to come out and support survivors in a safe way.”

A participant celebrates when crossing the finish line Sunday during the One in Five 5K run in Oakland. The annual event benefits the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Another big change was the start times. To avoid a large crowd of runners at the start of the race, the times were staggered in five-minute intervals, beginning at 9 a.m.

To keep track of runners’ times, the bibs they wore contained a small chip, and when each participant crossed the start and finish lines, he or she ran over a mat that activated the chip and the times.

Similarly, there was not an awards ceremony. Instead, one was planned for Monday via Facebook Live.

The event drew about 200 participants for the in-person race and about 175 for the virtual race. Spirits were high ahead of the race, with many groups dressing up in matching costumes, including a group dressed as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

Barbara Covey and Mark Jose of Oakland attended with their labradoodle, Lilly.  

“I’ve been doing this race since it started,” Covey said, “and it just seems so important to me. It’s good to be here in person.”

Lindsey Oliver of Sidney said she has done other virtual runs over the past year, but they do not have the same atmosphere, a sentiment echoed by other runners. 

“I love doing in-person races, and they haven’t really been around for the last couple of months,” Oliver said. “I saw this opportunity and it’s for a great cause, so I figured why not?”

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