Ever since the Sonics "left", the month of Februrary has been a relative sports lull for the city of Seattle. I suppose that folks could tune in to out-of-town sporting events. (There are probably at least a few people out there who haven't entirely sworn off the NBA as a result of David Stern and Clay Bennett being David Stern and Clay Bennett, i.e., super slimey slimeballs.) Or college basketball is pretty fun (if you haven't caught at least one UW women's basketball game and witnessed Kelsey Plum absolutely lighting up the opposition, then you're really missing out) and March Madness is right around the corner. Also, the countdown to the start of spring training is no longer comically high; the Mariners will start honing their skills down in Peoria in less than three weeks! However, until then, there will be something of a small intermission from professional sports in Seattle. As such, I'm going to take this time to talk about something that, while only partially sports-related, is wholly awesome.
The Seattle Mariners and Mariners Care came together and founded their Refuse to Abuse campaign back in 1997. They work in concert with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence to raise awareness about domestic abuse and actively work to help a wide variety of people. The Seattle Mariners were the first (and only, I think) MLB team to put together an initiative like this. Last year, Michael Saunders, Felix Hernandez, and Lloyd McClendon were featured in their ad campaign.
Additionally, in 2013, Raul Ibanez won the Hutch award, in large part due to his participation as the spokesman for the Refuse to Abuse campaign. Also, in 2014, Refuse to Abuse received the Commissioner's Award for Philanthropic Excellence. This award is given to "recognize an extraordinary charitable and philanthropic effort by an MLB Club". The Mariners and all of the people who are involved with this program are doing good work.
ANYWAY, the main reason that I mention all of this (in addition to giving y'all another reason to feel good about rooting for the Mariners) is that registration for the Mariners Refuse to Abuse 5K started last week. This year's race falls on Saturday, July 18th. This event is one of the main fundraisers for the Refuse to Abuse campaign and it's a ton o' fun. 2015 will be the fourth year for this race. Since it's inception in 2012, this event has increased dramatically in both the number of participants (from less than 1000 to more 1300 people) and in the amount of fundraising they've been able to accomplish (raising $26,000 in 2012 and $107,000 in 2014). Those are some not-insubstantial amounts of dollars that undoubtedly do a lot to address a rampant problem that is more than deserving of our attention.
I participated in this 5K in 2013 and 2014 and I really enjoyed myself both times. In addition to supporting a worthy foundation, signing up for this race provides you with a wonderful opportunity to see Safeco from an entirely different point of view. With the exception of your fellow runners and a few staff members cheering you on/pointing the way, the stadium is completely empty. The course takes you around the outside of the stadium and then inside along the main concourse, up through the suite level and view deck, and then down into the depths of Safeco. During the last portion of the race, you make your way down the tunnel in center field, circle the warning track past home plate and both dugouts, and finally finish feet from where Kyle Seager regularly plies his trade at the hot corner. It's a pretty neat experience.
Also, in my two years of participation, I was lucky enough to run by Dan Wilson and I also saw Mike Morse (who was on the DL at the time) cheering from the crowd. The Mariner Moose also graced Safeco with his presence.
This was always one of my favorite races of the year because the whole thing is surrounded by such a positive, festive atmosphere. If you like to run, it's fun. If you like to walk, it's fun. If you like to make goofy signs with Mariners-related puns to cheer on folks running for a good cause, it's fun. Since I moved to Boulder recently, I'm not sure that I'll be able to participate in this event this year, but I absolutely encourage anyone who is at all interested to check it out. (Also, if you've participated in this before, please share your experiences in the comments.)