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Ninth annual Chili-Heart 5K to benefit East China Educational Foundation

The Chili-Heart 5K is set for Feb. 8.
The Chili-Heart 5K is set for Feb. 8. - Photo courtesy Chili-Heart 5 K

By Jim Bloch

If winter is something that just means a change of scenery on your daily run, then the East China Educational Foundation has the 5K race for you.

The Chili-Heart 5K.

The race mantra sums it up: “The event will NOT be canceled because of weather.”

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The races take place on Saturday, Feb. 8 at St. Clair Middle School, 4335 Yankee Road in St. Clair Township.

Mike Domagalski, principal of St. Clair Middle School and president of the ECEF, is co-chairing the race with Annette Sturdy, the St. Clair city clerk.

Organizers have made two changes this year that should prove to be popular.

“We’ve discounted the registration cost for the youth races from $20 to $10,” Domagalski said. The lower fees will help make it easier for whole families to participate.

For the first time, racers will get to enjoy fresh chili at the conclusion of the competition, sampling a number of varieties.

“All eight of the Educational Foundation board members are making chili,” Domagalski said.

The starting line is outside the back entrance of the school; the course follows the school’s access road to the bike trail and the trail south as it curves along Jordan Creek, through a stand of woods and along farm fields to Brown Street inside the city; the course turns north into the Highlands Subdivision on Highland Drive, east onto St. Andrews, north onto Sixth Street, right on Braeburn and back north to the bike trail with the finish line at the rear entrance to the middle school.

Domagalski said that usually 100-150 people compete in the events, more if the weather is nice.

The first race was held in 2012.

Note that locker rooms will not be available to participants.

The Chili-Heart 5K starts at 9 a.m. and costs $20 to register until 11:59 p.m., Jan. 17, when it jumps to $25.

The 2K Walk starts five minutes later and also costs $20 until 11:59 p.m., Jan. 17, when it jumps to $25.

The Youth 5K Run and the Youth 2K Walk — both 17 and under — start at 9:05 a.m. and cost $10 to register through 11:59 p.m., Feb. 7

On race day, you may register for the 5K Run or 2K walk from 7:30-8:30 a.m. for $30.

All runners will receive medals; the awards will be presented inside the school after the races.

The overall men and women winners will have their names and times engraved on a plaque inside the East China School District administration building on Meisner Road in East China Township.

First and second-place finishers in the adult races will get medals in the following age groups: 18-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; and 60-plus.

First and second-place finishers in the Youth walk and run will receive medals and the top 10 will get certificates.

Race results will be posted at

The East China Educational Foundation is a fund managed by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County for the benefit East China School District students. The fund pays for after-school activities, extra-curricular science and math events, fine arts programs or any project that will enhance the education of ECSD students but can’t be paid for out the district’s general fund.

“We allow teachers and staff to apply for grants twice a year, in the fall and spring,” said Domagalski. “Oh my gosh, we’ve issued grants for all kinds of things. Flexible seating has been especially hot lately — beanbag chairs, wobble chairs, scoop chairs, floor pillows. Swing chairs to give students a sensory break. A lot of tech at the secondary level. Things that teachers need that are extra.”

Between sponsorships and registration fees, the race raises $3,500-4,000 for the ECEF.

To register, visit The St. Clair City Council unanimously granted a special event permit to the foundation at its regular meeting on Dec. 16.

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