Josh Stevenson has an important job at the Cruickshank 5K Race for Shelter. He’s the guy who actually starts it off. “I love to watch the runners take off down the road,” says Stevenson.
Now in its 17th year, the October race is held annually on the Saturday morning of Babson’s Family and Friends Weekend. “It’s a fun Babson tradition. It’s been going on for a long time now,” says Stevenson, the associate director of the College’s Service and Justice Programs, which co-sponsors the race with Babson Athletics.
The race takes its name from Bill Cruickshank ’49, H’99, the beloved, longtime Babson volunteer who passed away in 2015. Over the course of nearly 70 years, the decorated World War II veteran served the College in many capacities, including as a trustee and as president of the Babson Alumni Association.
For many years of the race, Cruickshank ran or walked the course with his granddaughter. “He was so excited to be part of it and have it named after him,” says Stevenson.
Proceeds from the event go to support Babson’s service immersion trips, which take students all around the world. In Florida and El Salvador, students build affordable housing with Habitat for Humanity, and in Tanzania and Guatemala, they teach Entrepreneurial Thought & Action to high school students as part of the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, or BELA.
Next summer, a new BELA trip, organized in part by student activist and filmmaker Melissa Denizard ’20, will take students to Flint, Michigan.
“We want to make these trips as affordable as possible so all students can go,” says Stevenson.
About 300 people run the race every year. They include parents visiting campus for Family and Friends Weekend, plus many sports teams that participate en masse. A small army of student volunteers directs runners through the course, which starts at the West Gate entrance of campus and winds its way through the hilly streets of Wellesley before finishing back on campus at the new Babson Recreation and Athletics Complex.
Among the Babson faculty and staff members who regularly run the race is Rob Major. An avid runner, Major has participated in dozens of races, but he always makes time for the Cruickshank. “I never miss this one. It’s nice as a runner to have a race in your backyard,” says Major, the director of academic services in Babson’s Undergraduate School. “The vibe is just fun. It’s a low-pressure kind of race.”
The race didn’t feel so low pressure, however, the first time Major ran it. When Major took up running about a decade ago, the Babson event was the first race he ever did. At the time, he was barely able to run three miles, and the newbie runner was nervous about what might happen on the course, especially considering that a lot of co-workers were running with him.
He still remembers how he felt at the end. “It was so exciting to finish that race the first time, thinking I can do this,” he says.
As friendly and low key as the race is, it also packs a wallop in its 3.1 miles. When runners finish, says Stevenson, they often remark to him about the hills. The course has two big hills at about the 2.6-mile mark, just when a runner may be looking forward to the finish line. When the runners return to campus for the final stretch, they also must conquer one last incline, going up College Drive.
Major said the hills shouldn’t deter anyone from lacing up their sneakers. “It’s a good challenge,” he says. “Come with your friends and have a good time and kick off Family Weekend with a run.”
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