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Rotary ready to volunteer at Sandhill Crane Run

DOWAGIAC — It was a reunion of sorts for the Dowagiac Rotary Club on Thursday.

Rotarians gathered at Front Street Crossing, 227 S. Front St., Dowagiac, for their first in-person meeting in more than a month due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s good to see everyone,” said Rotary Club president Bob Cochrane. “I thought we’d be able to meet much sooner than this, but I’m glad we’re able to meet in person again.”

Cochrane gave Rotarian Ron Gunn the floor to discuss the 13th annual Sandhill Crane All Trail races, which are set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at Dr. T.K. Lawless Park,15122 Monkey Run St., Vandalia.

Directed by Gunn, the races will include a half-marathon, a 10K run and walk, a 5K run and walk and a 1K children’s fun run. Proceeds from the race will benefit the Dowagiac Rotary Club.

According to Gunn, the club is in good shape in terms of volunteers for the event but could always use more. Students from Dowagiac Union High School’s Interact club, a club sponsored by Rotary that in turn provide leadership, will also help with volunteer work for the races.

Anyone planning on attending the event must wear a mask.

Registration was set to end Oct. 16, but the demand was so high that Gunn was forced to end registration early. An event record 338 runners are registered to participate in Sunday’s race. With so many people scheduled to participate, Gunn created what he calls a “socially-distant start.”

“Runners will get about a two-hour range to start,” Gunn said. “That way, not everybody’s at a mass start and that works out real good for us. There are no awards this year, so it doesn’t make a difference in how fast they run. We’ll get them a computer chip time. That way, they don’t have to rush up to the front of the starting line in order to go for first place. They’re just running the course because they love the course.”

The event features a socially distanced check-in, meaning volunteers won’t have to sign in participants.

“We just have to get them in five different lines,” Gunn said. “You guys are going to be giving them a packet, and then the person behind you is going to get them their shirt, and they’re gone. We don’t have to sign anybody in, so that’s going to work real good.”

Gunn said that a virtual race was considered, but event organizers wanted to find a way for runners to experience the Lawless Park course safely.

“There have been a lot of virtual races, but that’s not going to work for us,” Gunn said. “Our race goes on the merits of the course. They don’t want to do our course someplace else, so they’re going to do the race here. It’s going to take a little more patience, but we have a pretty good volunteer sign-up, so it’ll be very safe.”

Cochrane then introduced Rotarian Matthew Cripe as the week’s guest speaker.

Cripe, owner and operator of dental facility Matthew Cripe DDS, 303 Hamilton St., Dowagiac, asked members to smile, shout and envision scenarios that forced members to feel different emotions. The exercises were designed to show how body language can affect emotions.

One scenario called for Rotarians to envision a dozen snakes approaching beforethey flew away, “like a hawk.”

“With the snake, we activated your sympathetic nervous system,” Cripe said. “That system makes you feel strong desires to either fight, take flight or freeze. The lesson here is that your emotions affect your body, and your body affects your emotions. The wonderful thing is that you actually have the power to choose what affects us. When I asked you to smile, the physical act of smiling creates a chemical reaction in your body that puts you in a better mood.”

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