The SGT. Ryan Jopek Ruck-Run & Remember, sponsored by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1638 & Auxiliary, Agra Industries, Inc, Waid Funeral Home, Ziebel’s Door Co, & Z-Best Car Wash, seeks to bring the community back to the true meaning of Memorial Day weekend, which is to remember the sacrifices our armed forces have made for the life styles we enjoy daily.
“It has been 10 years since Sgt. Jopek was killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and we would like to remember him with this run around Council Grounds State Park in Merrill,” said Jessica Holmgren, Ryan’s sister and an event organizer. “Please join us in a great gathering of fun, friendship and reflection as we remember the sacrifice of Sgt. Ryan Jopek and the over 1,307,300 fallen military personnel in our nation’s history.”
The 5K Run and Walk will start at the MARC (Merrill Area Recreation Center) and continue around Council Grounds State Park.
The 10K Ruck portion will start at South Park Street on Merrill’s Scenic River Bend Hike/Bike Trail up to the MARC with registration at 7:30 a.m. and an 8 a.m. start with the option to continue on the 5K Run Walk registration 8 a.m. start 10 a.m. around Council Grounds State Park (a total of 6.21 miles).
Advanced registration is $20, or $30 with a t-shirt; $25 for Military and seniors; or family registration with two shirts is $50.
Registration on the day of the event will be $40, with limited t-shits available on first come first serve basis. Online registration is available at Active.com, Sgt. Ryan Jopek 5K Ruck – Run – Remember, or Facebook event. Register in advance by May 15; after May 15 there will be a $10 increase on event fees. Registration forms may be picked up at the Merrill Parks and Recreation office.
Proceeds from this run will be added to the Sgt. Ryan Jopek Memorial Scholarship fund at Merrill High School to provide $1,000 scholarships to High School students that exemplify great personal character and dedication. A portion of funds will also go toward the travel and maintenance costs for Ryan’s 1966 Chevy pick-up truck, “Walter.”
Ryan’s Memorial Scholarship has awarded $10,000 in scholarships over the past 10 years and this event would help ensure that it is able to continue for years to come.
“Walter,” Ryan’s 1966 Chevy truck has traveled around the state of Wisconsin as a reminder of the simple love of a man and his truck and as a rolling tribute to America’s veterans past and present. In nine years of travel, Walter has won numerous trophies and awards while being seen by thousands of people in parades and car shows.
“There are so many more places to travel to in Wisconsin and it’s always been a dream to go on a trip of a lifetime and take it to Ryan’s childhood homes in Kansas and Nebraska,” Jessica said.
Tentative Event Schedule Rain or Shine – Dress appropriately for weather conditions – this is not a professionally timed event but timing will be provided.
5K Ruck March Run
Registration 7:30 a.m.- Start 8 a.m., South Park Street at the beginning of new River Bend hike bike trail. Military style ruck march typically requires a minimum of 30 lbs of weight in a military or civilian style ruck pack. ***Note this is a challenge march not a requirement to parcipate.***
March – Run 1 1/2 miles on River Bend Trail to Hwy 64 crossing to Cottage and proceeding to Grand Ave north to the MARC (Merrill Area Recereation Complex. There will be a first aid and water station at 1.5 miles. After arriving at the MARC you have the option to continue on the March for 5K around the beautiful Council Grounds State Park and ending back at the MARC.
Run & Remember 5K Run Walk
Registration opens 8 a.m. at the MARC (Merrill Area Recreation Complex, 1100 Marc Dr.). Start time 10 a.m. for runners staggered every 10 minutes depending on the number of participants with walkers starting at 10:20 a.m. Families with children are welcome to participate, stroller is recommended. Course maps are posted and will be available on event day.
Parking is available at the River Bend Trail start and at the MARC at no charge. A shuttle will be available for those participating in the Ruck to return to their vehicle.
All participants will need to provide a waiver release and provide proper ID along with proof of military service for military discount.
Safety is absolutely a priority for this event and safety personnel will be provided for intersections. Council Grounds State Park roads will not be closed, runners and walkers will be expected to stay on the right side of the road and allow vehicles to pass if needed. If inclement weather impacts the event due to lightning, high winds, or tornado the event may require a delay of start. This event is a rain or shine event unless unsafe to continue.
Please wear appropriate apparel and shoes for conditions. The course is 100% paved trails designated for hiking and biking except for highway 64 to Cottage to Grand Ave to the MARC.
Information provided is subject to change.