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Since 1976, the Loveland Classic 5K/10K race has been an annual tradition in Loveland. This year, the nearly 47-year-old race is getting a facelift and a new name. The race will be held on Saturday, April 22 (which you might recognize as Earth Day) and will be known going forward as the Earth Day 5K/10K, to be held annually on the Saturday in April closest to Earth Day.

Earth Day is an annual event observed on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, the day now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by, in which one billion people in more than 193 countries participate. The official theme for 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet.” (Wikipedia)

The Loveland Classic was originally conceived by the City of Loveland as a companion event to the Coors Classic. The Coors International Bicycle Classic (1980–1988) was a stage race sponsored by the Coors Brewing Company. Coors was the race's second sponsor; the race began in 1976, and under its first sponsor, Celestial Seasonings, was named after the company’s premium tea, Red Zinger Bicycle Classic. Over the years, the event became America's national tour, listed as the fourth largest race in the world after the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España. The race grew from three days of racing in its first years as the Red Zinger to two weeks in the later Coors Classic years. Race stages were held in Colorado in the early years, expanding first from Boulder and Denver back to the Keystone ski resort, later adding Estes Park, Vail, Aspen, and Grand Junction, before further expansion that included Wyoming, Nevada, California, and Hawaii. All but the last year the race concluded with a short circuit in North Boulder Park. (Wikipedia)

But back to the Loveland Classic. As one of the oldest foot races in the city, the race has had many iterations, managers and locations over the years. Its original location was Orchards Shopping Center, and has migrated over the years from 34 Marketplace to Davidson-Gebhardt Chevrolet at The Motorplex at Centerra, and finally to its current location at the Lakes at Centerra.

There is scant information about the race’s early management, though it is known that the City of Loveland originally managed the event. From 1998 to 2005 The Loveland Classic was managed by the Loveland Road Runners, a local running club. In 2005, the Road Runners turned management of the race over to the Thompson Valley Preschool and the proceeds from the race began supporting early childhood education programs at TVP.

In 2014 the race, traditionally held in mid-July, changed to late April to encourage families with students in Thompson School District to participate. The race management also changed that year to Green Events, a race company based out of Fort Collins. The beneficiary of the race proceeds also expanded that year from Thompson Valley Preschool to include Thompson School District’s Integrated Early Childhood Program. Thompson Education Foundation administered funds to both organizations and today manages the race proceeds to benefit general educational opportunities to students in TSD. Since 2005, the race has generated over $95,000 to support educational opportunities for local students.

For the last several years, the course has run around the scenic Lakes at Centerra – Houts Reservoir and Equalizer Lake – with the race start and finish line at the Rangeview Office Campus. With an ideal, safe route exclusively on paved and cinder trails, the race draws families and fitness junkies alike on a usually mild spring Saturday morning. The route includes access to High Plains Environmental Center (HPEC), an urban environmental park that is open to the public from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year. The center includes 76 acres of land and three miles of trails that surround the two lakes covering an additional 200 acres. The lakes were dug in 1907 to store water for irrigation and have subsequently become a valuable habitat for migratory waterfowl. HPEC is committed to preserving Colorado’s unique natural beauty within a growing urban area and cultivating a conservation ethic.

The Loveland Classic’s late-April timeframe, locational partnership with HPEC and the Center’s mission “to educate communities to become replicable ‘living laboratories’ which demonstrate restorative examples of land-stewardship, native plants, and wildlife habitat” were the motivators for the Classic’s renaming this year as the Earth Day 5K/10K. A focus on sustainability by the race’s organizing company, Green Events, further strengthens the event’s ties to a day and month (April is Earth Month) committed to environmental awareness, ecologically friendly habits, and maintaining the health of our planet.

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