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Runners/Walkers Put Best Foot Forward For Clean Air

On Saturday, April 17th, the 29th Annual 5k Run for Clean Air attracted thousands to the site of the Art Museum for more than just a leisurely stroll in the park. The Go Green Go SEPTA team laced up their running shoes to take their place at the starting line among athletes and non-athletes.

After registering the participants joined in a healthy group stretch prior to taking their positions for the 9 a.m. start. The race followed the scenic Martin Luther King Drive along the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park.

Each registered runner was provided a special electronic computer chip encased in a weatherproof plastic strip with their bib number on it and attached it to their shoe laces or ankle to accurately record their running time. When runners crossed the finish line, a signal was sent to a receiving unit identifying the time and bib number.

Among the several sponsor tents dotting the starting line, there was one that stood out among them. A forty-foot hybrid bus was parked curbside adorned with a "5K Run for Clean Air" poster on its side. Race participants were encouraged to autograph the poster to show their support for environmental awareness. "We have sponsored this event for several years and we always look forward to it," said team coordinator George Spellman. "It's such a great way to make people aware of the importance of clean-air and their responsibility to help decrease the amount of pollutants in the atmosphere. Hybrid technology allows us to offer improved service for our customers while helping to improve our environment."

Bill DeBoer of the Marketing Department has participated in the event for years. "I like to think of myself as somewhat of a fitness conscious person, so when this event comes around I'm ready," said DeBoer. "People are beginning to see that being fit means more than jogging on the weekends or skipping a meal sometimes; we have to protect our environment in the process. SEPTA has been doing that long before it was fashionable." DeBoer helped staff an information table set up outside of the bus to let participants know what SEPTA is doing to help the environment, then he made his way to the starting line.

Also in attendance was Katie Edwards, 5k Run Director for the Clean Air Council, who has seen the race grow from about 150 runners 29 years ago to over 2000 participants in 2010.

"Its core to Clean Air Council's mission to promote sustainable transportation to reduce emissions and improve air quality, so it's crucial for us to promote mass transit as much as possible," said Edwards."We promote SEPTA above and beyond that because they now have hybrid buses which reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality tremendously so it is really important for people to use mass transit, and for mass transit organizations to do as SEPTA did and implement hybrid vehicles."

Thousands of participants take part in the annual 5k Run For Clean Air

Team coordinator George Spellman (r) greets fellow runner Joe Connolly of the Government Affairs department

Bill DeBoer paces himself during the morning event

Participants were encouraged to sign a "5k Run For Clean Air" poster on the side of a SEPTA hybrid bus

Run Director Katie Edwards of the Clean Air Council