Forget the finish line. Jim Whiting was having trouble even seeing the starting blocks just a few months ago.
Whiting, the longtime organizer of the island’s summertime All-Comers Track Meets, recalled the perfect storm of misfortune that befell the beloved program in March.
Facility fees skyrocketed, and shot up three times over the average that track meet organizers previously paid. But that wasn’t all.
“Insurance costs went up by a factor of eight, and our previous sponsor had to back out for reasons totally unrelated to the event itself,” Whiting said.
Whiting stepped up his search for donations to bridge the gap, but his calls for help from the community were quickly answered. Faster than an Olympic sprinter, the Bainbridge Island Kiwanis Club raced to the rescue.
“As soon as they became aware of the situation, they offered to help with a sponsorship,” Whiting said.
Another bonus: The meets could be covered under the Kiwanis’ insurance policy.
“So right away, that saved us more than $3,000. It was fantastic,” Whiting said.
The All-Comers program is now entering its 19th year. Last year, the all-ages meets averaged between 150 and 175 runners, plus a like number of parents, friends and families.
Whiting said the meets may see something of a growth spurt this season.
“I’m hoping that we might get a little bit of an upward bump this year with Kiwanians taking it over,” he said.
The All-Comers meets will be held on Mondays, from July 8 through Aug. 26 at the Bainbridge High School track. All meets start at 6:30 p.m.
Events include the 50-meter dash; 100-meter run, 200-meter run, 400-meter run, 800/1600 meter runs; 60-meter step hurdles (12-inches high); 4x100 meter relay; and joggers’ mile (winner closest to his/her predicted time).
As always, admission is free to runners and spectators.
While Whiting has been thrilled by the support from the Kiwanis, he said he’s also thankful for the volunteers who help put on the meets; the timers, the scorekeepers, the sideline monitors and the folks who help keep hundreds of energetic kids supervised during the events.
“I’m grateful to all the people who show up and volunteer and put the meet on. If it ever became a one-man show, I’d have a nervous breakdown,” he said.
Whiting is also looking for a few pre-season volunteers to help out.
The Kiwanis Club is marching in the Fourth of July parade and all the organizations that the club helps will be walking with the Kiwanians. Whiting is hoping that some kids and their parents will come march with the All-Comers Meet banner.
People interested in walking with Whiting in the parade can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.