Awesome 3000 won’t happen in 2022, future uncertain

Cailinn O’Brien, center, at her first Awesome 3000 race in 2010 with cousin Austin Weigel, left, and friend Adam Biggler (Courtesy/LaTishia Crosen)

The Awesome 3000, a once-signature Salem event, won’t happen in 2022.

It’s the second year in a row the fun run, a major fundraiser for the now-defunct Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, won’t take place – and the future of the race remains uncertain following the foundation’s closure in June 2020.

The race began in 1983 and featured several hundred young competitors, with a $5 entrance fee going toward grants for local teachers. It was held annually up to 2020, though the pandemic postponed it several months past its normal early May date.

When the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation shut its doors following a period of financial challenges exacerbated by the pandemic, several Salem nonprofit organizations agreed to take on its core programs.

United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley had planned to take on the race along with the foundation’s after school Enrichment Academy programs.

But Liz Schraeder, chief development officer for United Way, said they’ve made no plans for a 2022 event. Schraeder said United Way remains open to organizing future events and working with the district to determine what the race might look like in the future.

“We are interested in having those conversations,” she said.

The Salem-Keizer School District currently has no plans for the race, said spokeswoman Emily Hicks.

“As we continue to move forward from the Covid-19 pandemic, the district will look at ways to collaborate with our local community partners to bring activities such as this to families,” she said in a text.

-Rachel Alexander