Last year, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) shut down its football program due to financial concerns. UAB became the first major college football program to shut down since 1995. However, the decision did not sit well with students.
“The students rallied together to get the football program back,” said Bethany Tolar, the coordinator of reservations and events for the department of campus recreation. “They were calling it Free UAB and now they are calling it The Return.”
With the return of UAB football, the department of campus recreation saw this as a second chance to create traditions surrounding the sport. This sparked the idea of hosting the inaugural Blazer 5K and 1 Mile Walk, which will take place as part of the homecoming festivities this October.
“We wanted to do a 5K so we can have a staple event around homecoming week and be one of the student affairs traditions for years to follow,” explained Tolar. “We want it to lead into the homecoming game that Saturday before people start tailgating. So they will run the race and then go into the tailgating at the football game. We are really hoping this year goes well and that people want to continue to host it in the future.”
In order to make sure this year’s event goes off without a hitch, Tolar explained they started planning in May. “There have been quite a lot of preparation,” she said. “We have worked with three different offices on campus. Health and Wellness is the office that used to host a Fun Run on campus, but they no longer do that, so we have partnered with them just to get some background on what they used to do. Then we also partnered with Student Involvement just to make sure that the students are involved in the planning process. Finally, we worked with the Alumni Office to make sure we are reaching out and getting information to them because we want to bring the entire community together.”
On October 22, the day will kick off with the Blazer 5K and 1 Mile Walk. Once participants cross the finish line, they will get to relax at the expo on the campus lawn featuring various vendors, a band, inflatables and various other fun activities for kids. The day will conclude with tailgating and the return of the UAB football homecoming game.