NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball's popular All-Star Game 5K & Fun Run presented by Nike will return for a fourth summer, this time with a few new twists. It will be held in a park and on the Saturday morning of All-Star Week for the first time, Mets legend John Franco will be leading the way for fundraisers, and it will benefit Superstorm Sandy relief.
This year's event will take place July 13 at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, site of the start of this month's Brooklyn Half Marathon. MLB Charities is working with New York Road Runners and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to organize the event and will donate all net proceeds to charities supporting Sandy relief efforts.
"I'm really excited MLB is bringing this event back this year, and in New York," said Vivien Wadeck of Los Angeles, the female winner of the first two ASG 5K runs. "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."
Participants of all ages will have the opportunity to create their own fundraising team-profile page online. The top fundraisers will have a chance to win special All-Star experience prizes, including tickets to All-Star events, throwing out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Home Run Derby and the chance to join celebrities and Hall of Famers on a team competing in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game. Prizes also will be awarded to the race's top finishers.
Franco has created "Team Franco" to participate in the race, and you can be part of his fundraising team or start your own. Franco, the Brooklyn native and St. John's product who holds the Majors' all-time record for saves by a left-hander with 424, is currently in his fifth season as a club ambassador for the Mets. He was recently named to be one of several All-Star ambassadors as well.
"I'm honored to join Major League Baseball in helping fellow New Yorkers who are still trying to recover from the storm's damage," said Franco. "I want to encourage everyone to help me raise money for the cause by joining 'Team Franco.'"
Participants of all ages will make their way through an All-Star-themed course inside Prospect Park that will feature appearances by MLB legends, mascots and celebrity guests. The event will count as part of the 9+1 program to earn guaranteed entry to the ING New York City Marathon for New York Road Runner members who meet eligibility requirements. That is a huge deal to New York runners, because if you run at least nine NYRR races and volunteer for at least one race in 2013, you are guaranteed entry into the 2014 marathon, for which hundreds of thousands of applications and a lottery are the norm.
Previous MLB All-Star Game 5K & Fun Run events have been held in St. Louis (2009), Anaheim ('10) and Kansas City ('12). Those were all held on a Sunday morning, and there was no race at Phoenix in 2011 due to the heat that time of year.
The 5K is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. ET, with the family-friendly 1.5 Mile Fun Run immediately following the 5K start. All registered participants will receive a commemorative All-Star 5K & Fun Run Benefiting Sandy Relief presented by Nike T-shirt and the top fundraisers will be eligible to win exclusive MLB prizes.
Fans who sign up by June 15 will receive a special early-bird price of $35 (adult) and $30 (children 17 and under) for the 5K and Fun Run. Space is limited so participants of all ages are encouraged to sign up early. Registration and event information is available at AllStarGame.com/Run.
"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."
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 clubs 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.com and MLB Network.
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.
Don't be surprised if Wadeck shows up back in the field. And expect some elite runners, considering that New York is one of the centers of road running. Records are likely to fall.
"Running for me has always been about being the best I can be," Wadeck said. "I'm definitely not running as fast as I was in college, but I'm still getting out there, pushing myself and staying healthy. A race like the ASG 5K is more than a race -- it's a memorable experience, so everyone wins. I'm looking forward to another great race in NYC."
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.