By Katelyn Patterson | Reporter
GTG Outdoors will be hosting a 5K and 2K race at McLane Stadium Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. Community members can register to run for $35, and high school and college students can do so for $25. All who register get a free T-shirt and GTG sticker, as well as entry to the Bears Adventure River Party following the race.
Founder and Waco native Gabe Garmelo said the organization partners with after-school programs and schools in Waco.
“GTG Outdoors works with the community and other community partners to provide outdoor education and outdoor adventure experiences to McLennan County and central Texas overall,” Garmelo said. “Our hope is that, as we partner with these after-school programs and families, we can get more and more families to feel confident about taking themselves outdoors, even without our assistance.”
According to the GTG Outdoors website, its mission is to help fund and provide outdoor adventure experiences to support the well-being of those who are underrepresented in central Texas.
“Our main focus is removing barriers that communities and families face when pursuing outdoor adventure,” the website said.
The 5K and 2K races will be held separately, one after one another. Garmelo said everyone in the 5K will be cheered on by the 2K racers this way.
“The races are going to be within the stadium, but the 5K will be along the [Brazos] river as well,” Garmelo said. “When you get into the stadium, you’ll get to run along the field, and then up into the concourses… then you’ll run up those ramps, and there’s a few stairs you’ll have to do. You’ll actually finish at the highest point that you can access on foot at McLane Stadium, and you’re actually eye level with Alico at that point.”
This is the first year that the 5K will be hosted by the organization. The race is primarily a fundraiser, but it is also an event to inform the community about GTG Outdoors and what they do. GTG Outdoors has partnered with multiple organizations, such as the Wilderness Education Association, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Baylor University Campus Recreation to help them get to where they are today.
“We’ve been around for about a year now, and we just want to get more involvement with the community, as well as help people try to find some of our after-school programs that we’re going to have this fall,” Garmelo said.
Wildwood, Mo. senior Connor Bond, a student ambassador for GTG Outdoors, said he works to promote events and programs to students on campus.
“GTG is very loosely associated with Baylor, but we really do like to pull students from campus and whatnot,” Bond said.
Garmelo is a part-time student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary. He also works for the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation by teaching backpacking, camping, paddle sports and mountain biking classes.
“I’ve been in the outdoor industry for about five years now, building those skills up,” Garmelo said. “This is a big passion of mine. We see a lot of benefits of kids just getting outdoors into nature and learning the skills that get them to enjoy that even more.”
Bond said GTG Outdoors has created its own culture and community, where he has been able to refine his own outdoor skills.
“Being more involved with the community through GTG Outdoors has given me an opportunity to kind of broaden my horizons,” Bond said. “I’m a recreation major, so I want to do outdoor leadership. It’s given me those necessary skills, and that’s what I really like about it.”