2020 has been a different year. The 2021 Neuf Memorial Run will be a different race in response to the global pandemic as it moves to a virtual 9K or 2-mile run on Jan. 9, 2021. The fourth annual event honors the memory of Russ Neufeld, a long-time Kansas resident who passed away on Jan. 21, 2017 after an 18-month fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The event raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Russ Neufeld Memorial Scholarship at Hesston College. Over the first three years of the Neuf Memorial Run, the race has raised over $35,000 from race proceeds and donations.
For an entry fee of $35, all registered participants for the virtual 9K or 2-mile run will receive a personalized digital bib through RunSignUp, a commemorative lightweight running hat, and a digital finisher’s certificate.
In addition, prize categories for the virtual event include the following nine categories: best costume, most creative place to run, most creative time to run, best beard (real or otherwise), best kilt, best display of Neuf branding, bravest running outfit, best “spread the love” message, best family/group themed costume.
The Neuf has added the 2021 Virtual Neuf Challenge to encourage increased physical activity during the holiday season. The challenge is to run/walk 90K (or more) between December 9, 2020, and January 9, 2021. The Virtual Challenge includes entry in the Virtual Neuf Run along with a commemorative quarter-zip long-sleeve pullover for an entry fee of $90.
For local participants, packet pickup for the 2021 Virtual Neuf Run and the 2021 Virtual Neuf Challenge will be at the shelter at Cottonwood Park located on the corner of 24th Street and Minnesota Avenue in North Newton, Kan., just south of Mojo’s Coffee Bar (2500 N. Main Street, North Newton, Kan.) from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Friday, January 8, 2021. For everyone participating from afar, race items will be mailed after race day.
The race celebrates community as Neufeld described in his final Facebook post: “Take all this love you have and share it,” he wrote. “It only multiplies and there are so many who could use it…just spread the love folks – it’s the only thing in this world that endures.”
The January run and the 9K distance are as unique as Neufeld. A transplanted Canadian, he relished the cold weather, and Neuf — “nine” in French — was a nickname for Neufeld. His car’s stick shift handle was a 9-ball.
Visit runtheneuf.neuf.ca for more information and to register for the run. Run the Neuf!