Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Hosting 15th Annual Road Race

Want to help promote the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle? Want to race along with other health-conscious individuals? The Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is hosting its 15th annual Nutrition Fuels Fitness Road Race on April 8 at Goddard Park in Warwick, Rhode Island.

The Nutrition Fuels Fitness 5k has now become the Nutrition Fuels Fitness Road Races, with the new addition of a 10k race this year.

“A major goal of our event is to encourage Rhode Islanders to exercise and live healthy lives,” Paula Reynolds said, volunteer and graduate student from Johnson and Wales University.

Proceeds will benefit the Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, while also funding registered dieticians to participate in community education events, provide scholarships to local nutrition students and support heart disease research and awareness through the Go Red for Women Campaign, a nonprofit piece of the American Heart Association.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, and people don’t really realize that,” said Dara LoBuono, registered dietician and Ph.D. student at URI. “I think drawing that kind of awareness, and how you can make better lifestyle choices to improve overall health, is so important.”

Kimberly Koness, co-chair of the Rhode Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, or RIAND, as well as professor of nutrition at the University of Rhode Island, has been organizing the Nutrition Fuels Fitness Road Races along with her other co-chair, Sue Manchester, since its first annual 15 years ago.

“Last year was the first year we started working with the Heart Association,” Koness said, “which we saw as being a great combination because we have the same mission, for getting people healthy and being proactive by taking care of themselves first.”

Koness emphasized her passion for health and wellness, as she is an active participant in marathons and triathlons along with other coordinators of the event. This passion fueled the start of the RIAND event.

“I thought it would be fun to have a race as our major fundraiser,” said Koness. “It was something a little bit different, and something I love doing.”

The road races offer events for everyone, so there are plenty of ways to get involved. There’s a 5k, 1-mile Fun Run, newly added 10k, and, for the kids, a climbing wall and obstacle course organized by Laid Back Fitness.

In addition to these events, there is a health expo at the end of the race, with various health-related sponsors promoting their services. Some vendors include physical therapists, massage therapists and people checking blood pressure.

“There’s a lot of organizing who’s going to be at our health expo,” said Koness. “We actually start planning in September, who we want at the health expo, who our sponsors should be, and who we should contact.”

Groups are encouraged to join the race together, as prizes are awarded.

“The team prize goes to the team with the largest number of people on it; it’s not by how fast they are,” Koness said, which is a great incentive to get more and more people to join.

Such a large event requires a great number of helping hands. Getting involved is as simple as contacting Koness, as there are plenty of ways to help out.

“We get a lot of the students to help out,” Koness said, “I’d say that each year we have at least 50 volunteers out there helping with the 5k, this year the 10k, the kids’ activities, the health expo, registration and t-shirts.”

Having the URI student body to help out, as well as having volunteers from Johnson and Wales University, is an invaluable piece to a successful race each year. The crew at RIAND appreciates all the help they get.

“For me, being involved definitely gives you certain skills that you might not get in a classroom,” LoBuono said. “You understand how nonprofits work, as there’s so many moving parts. Whether it’s remembering to order porta potties, or deciding where vendors go at the health expo.”

“I encourage everyone to join,” Reynolds said. “One big reason [to join] is to encourage the whole Rhode Island community to exercise.”