NEW YORK -- Whether you want to be part of an official All-Star event or are doing a couch-to-5K training program or wish to help an important cause, there are increasingly more reasons to sign up for the MLB All-Star Game 5K & Fun Run benefiting Sandy Relief presented by Nike at 8 a.m. ET on July 13. Here are 10:
1. Major League Baseball on Thursday announced the list of legends and personalities who will be joining MLB All-Star Ambassador and four-time All-Star John Franco at the event. They include Hall of Famer Frank Robinson; No. 3 all-time winningest manager Tony La Russa; former Mets and Yankees pitcher Dwight Gooden; Ed Charles, Ed Kranepool and Art Shamsky of the 1969 Mets; Barry Lyons of the '86 Mets; and MLB Network analysts and endurance athletes Eric Byrnes (11-year MLB veteran) and Sam Ryan.
2. Mr. Met is bringing nine of his fellow MLB mascots to cheer you on from start to finish and pose for pics. They aren't much for running, but Wally (Red Sox), Dinger (Rockies), Orbit (Astros), Sluggerrr (Royals), T.C. (Twins), Stomper (Athletics), Rangers Captain (Rangers), Ace (Blue Jays) and Screech (Nationals) are good at cheering runners, on base or otherwise.
3. It's an official event for 2013 All-Star Week in New York, scheduled for that Saturday morning in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. It all leads up to the 84th Midsummer Classic that Tuesday night at Citi Field, hosted by the Mets. So rather than simply watching, you can say that you were an All-Star participant in the Big Apple.
4. Fundraising makes it more worthwhile. Charles, Kranepool and Shamsky have created the "Miracle Mets" fundraising team in honor of their 1969 World Series Championship. Franco, the all-time leader in saves by a left-hander, will run the loop with you and has created "Team Franco" to participate in this event. You can be part of their fundraising team for Hurricane Sandy relief or start your own fundraising profile at AllStarGame.com/Run.
"I'm challenging all of New York to come on out," Franco said. "There are a lot of families out there who are still homeless, a lot of families who still need a lot of help. All of the proceeds go to the victims. We're just trying to go out there, rally the troops up, show how New Yorkers come together, and do a great run."
5. Get that orange All-Star T-shirt. In addition to the official All-Star logo, it says "I RUN FOR" in large lettering on the front, and on the back it says "SANDY RELIEF." It's good race swag, for adults and children. Pick up your shirt along with your race bib at the Niketown Atrium on Thursday or Friday before the event.
6. Top fundraisers will be rewarded with special All-Star experiences, including tickets to All-Star events, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Chevrolet Home Run Derby and the chance to join some of today's pop stars and Hall of Famers on a team competing in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game. Awards will also be presented to the race's top male, female, youth and wheelchair finishers, so there are reasons for elite runners to be part of this as well.
7. Speaking of the elites, two-time women's champion Vivien Wadeck of Los Angeles is tentatively planning to return for a possible third title, having won at St. Louis in 2009 and Anaheim in '10.
"I'm really excited MLB is bringing this event back this year, and in New York," she said. "This is one of my favorite events, because it gets people from the community and people from across the nation to come together for a greater good -- to raise money for charity and to stay healthy. And everyone can participate, whether they run or walk. It's a memorable experience."
8. MLB partners with the New York Road Runners to stage this event, and that has some lasting benefits for NYRR members. For one thing, this 5K will count as a scored qualifier in the 9+1 program (at least nine races and one volunteer assignment the previous calendar year) to earn guaranteed entry to the 2014 ING New York City Marathon, for NYRR members who meet eligibility requirements. If you want to know what a big deal that is, consider that some 48,000 runners are expected in this November's marathon, and the annual number of global applicants is well into six figures, most relying on lottery luck. This 5K is a NYRR no-brainer.
9. Sign up by July 13 and you get the special early bird price of $35 (adult) and $30 (children 17 and under). Space is limited so you are encouraged to sign up early at AllStarGame.com/Run.
10. The course is not only All-Star themed, but a nice run. Prospect Park, which serves as the start for the popular Brooklyn Half, is faster than hilly Central Park. Consider it a full day in the parks to benefit Sandy Relief, because then you can head to Central Park and take in the All-Star Charity Concert featuring Mariah Carey performing as a special guest with the New York Philharmonic on the Great Lawn.
MLB is working with NYRR and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to organize the running event and will donate all net proceeds to charities supporting relief from that disaster that hit the area as the last World Series was ending. In the immediate wake of Sandy, MLB and the MLB Players Association joined together to donate $1 million to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Feeding America to assist emergency relief efforts in the most devastated areas along the East Coast affected by the storm. Additionally, MLB worked closely with all 30 and its broadcasting and digital partners to encourage baseball fans to support the Red Cross via public service announcements, programming mentions and editorial coverage on MLB Network and MLB.com.
In the weeks after the storm, Mets players and staff visited affected areas in Staten Island, Far Rockaway, Breezy Point, Coney Island and Long Beach bringing food and supplies to aid in the recovery. The Mets Foundation and David Wright also donated $250,000 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City to support hurricane restoration efforts.
"The tri-state area and many of its residents are still trying to recover from the damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, and Major League Baseball recognizes more help is needed," MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan said. "With the All-Star Game taking place in New York City, it gives MLB the opportunity to conduct events that will benefit those still affected by the storm."
"This event is more than a foot race -- it's about our united effort and resolve to help the city continue to recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy," said Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR. "This partnership with MLB allows us to reach an even greater audience -- dedicated baseball fans and runners can show and share their passions, all in a combined effort to aid the city in its continued road to recovery."
Additional sponsors of the event include Aquafina, Chevrolet, Duane Reade, Fox Sports 1, Gatorade, the Hospital for Special Surgery, Kellogg's, T-Mobile and Time Warner Cable.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.