Student runners lead ‘Run to Clear the Shelters’

Malia Wanderer, Sports Editor

Members of the Palo Alto High School track team and local animal shelter, Pets in Need, employees distribute giveaways and sell shirts at an in-person gathering for Run to Clear the Shelters on Saturday at the Palo Alto Pets in Need. Run to Clear the Shelters is a virtual 5K run that was organized by senior Neel Fulton and Pets in Need employees. According to Katerina Adamos-Jardine, a development manager from Pets in Need, her nonprofit organization is appreciative of Fulton’s contributions. “We are grateful to Neel for putting so much time and energy into supporting Pets In Need,” Adamos-Jardine said. “It’s community members like Neel who make our work possible.” Photo: Malia Wanderer

Aiming to raise money for a local animal shelter, members of the Palo Alto High School track team are hosting Run to Clear the Shelters, a virtual 5K race. 

Paly senior Neel Fulton, who organized Run to Clear the Shelters, said he hoped to raise around $3,000 for Pets in Need, a no kill animal shelter.  All proceeds will be used to help the shelter rescue animals that are at risk of being put down, according to Pets in Need development manager Katerina Adamos-Jardine. According to Fulton, they surpassed their fundraising goal by raising money through the $10 registration fee, event T-shirt sales, additional donations and sponsorships from local businesses.

The first day of the race was on Friday, and participants have through today to complete and send in their runs. Due to the virtual nature of the event, runners were able to sign up regardless of their location and run a route of their choice.

“We have about 70 runners registered,” Fulton stated in an email. “Being passionate about running or simply wanting to get some exercise while benefiting a local animal shelter are good reasons [to participate].”

According to Fulton, the event was initially planned to be an in-person race, but was converted to a virtual format due to county mandated restrictions on gatherings.

“Participants can still track their runs on running apps like Strava and Nike Run Club to be put on the leaderboard, and people who run with their dogs are able to send photos to Pets in Need for their social media posts,” Fulton stated.

While a virtual race removes the aspect of live competition, there are still pros, according to Fulton.

“This [a virtual format] certainly takes some of the fun out of the race day experience, but it gives runners more flexibility with when and where they choose to run their 5K and helps everyone stay safe and socially distanced during the current pandemic,” Fulton stated. 

Although the race is virtual, there was a small gathering from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pets in Need in Palo Alto for runners to stop at and pick up giveaways, purchase T-shirts and meet adoptable pets. 

Fulton said that his passion for running and love of animals inspired him to organize the race.

“I have participated in fundraiser runs all my life, and have always wanted to organize one for a cause that is important to me,” Fulton stated.