This event was officially started in 2007 by Garrett Jurges and Stewart Kieliszewski. We were approached at that time by the Ubly Athletic Boosters about starting a 5K race during the Ubly Homecoming festivities as a fundraiser for them.
We started very low tech with basically no money to get started. We got a few business donations by going door to door to start up with expenses. There were so many things to be done in the startup year such as creating the course, race forms, shirts, liability issues, etc.
Our original registration area and course start and finish line used to be over on the west side of the park parking lot. The first couple years we used to spray paint arrows on the street corners. Problem with that was you could not see the arrow until you came right up to the intersection, so in 2009 I had some small arrow signs made up that you could see before you came to the corner.
In our first few years we had age group awards for the runners but only awarded top 3 overall walkers. We did not have a big array of post-race refreshments and we scored the race very low tech by giving runners just a small name tag as their “bib” and just handing out index cards as your finishing place. Those then got placed on a poster board at the finish line that was used to announce age group winners.
Those first 4 years were definitely a learning experience with many tweaks being made each year to make the race even better than the previous year.
Stewart and I put on this event for the Athletic Boosters for the first 4 years. Starting in 2011, I took over managing this event myself and turned into a fundraiser for the Ubly Cross Country program because I had now become the Ubly Varsity Cross Country Coach.
A lot of things changed that year. I changed our walker races to be age group awards just like for the runners and I started awarding a more customized medal instead of a generic one. I had to change the start/finish area of the course again and I increased our finish line refreshment assortment. I was able to do this because of business donations I started getting that year that I then listed on back of our custom t-shirts. I also took the shirt design and made it more of a running/race theme as opposed to the Ubly Homecoming theme as it was done the first 4 years which is why the first few years some may wonder why we had those particular designs.
We still scored the race with the low tech method for a few more years, but the participation was growing and some modifications were made such as getting even bigger arrow signs for the street corners and adding many more helpers and volunteers to help work the event.
On our 10th anniversary in 2016, more changes came. I awarded new customized medals to not only the age group winners, but a participation medal to all participants for that year. I also added business sponsor signs along the course and changed our registration and award area to the park pavilion. I also took the shirt design and had them start making it more of an “Ubly Bearcat” theme.
The next year in 2017 due to some changes at the park with fencing, I had to change the start and finish line of our course yet again which started at the DPW and finishes by the park pavilion which was praised by many. I also added a timing clock at the finish line and started scoring the race with computer and tear off finisher tags. It is not electronic scoring, but is still quicker and more efficient than the "old school" method we had been using.
In 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ubly 5K was cancelled for the first time. The event was still held unofficially for anyone that wanted to participate, but it was basically mostly a virtual event instead.
In 2021, we were able to bring in a professional timing service, Miller Race Management and with that and the addition of the new walking path in the park installed in 2020, the course was tweaked just a little to have the finish on the walking path instead of the grass by park pavilion. With 2021 also being the 15th anniversary, we once again gave medals to all participants.
In 2023 we started doing gift certificate giveways to partipants during results and the race continues to be a favorite of many in the thumb.
I have pride in knowing the Ubly 5K has become one of the largest and fastest races in the thumb. It is all thanks to each of you who have come year after year to support us.
Thank you as always for your support,
Garrett Jurges - Race Director/Ubly Cross Country Coach
Below is a history of the participation numbers every year. The first number is total participants that completed the race and the second number is the total number registered for the race.
2007 – 66/68
2008 – 62/68
2009 – 87/90
2010 – 97/98
2011 – 172/174
2012 – 149/153
2013 – 172/177
2014 – 208/217
2015 – 161/180
2016 – 211/224
2017 – 201/209
2018 – 168/182
2019 – 150/167
2020 – Virtual
2021 - 153/162
2022 - 197/203
2023 - 168/192