The Natick Soldier Systems Center will host a 5K run to benefit a local soldiers' organization ando build a better relationship with the civilians who live near the base, center officials said.
Lt. Col. Frank Sobchak, Natick garrison commander, said heightened security in the post-9/11 world has often placed walls and fences between the American people and their Army.
“The objective is outreach to build bridges where, over the past 10 years, we’ve built fences,” Sobchak said. “In the Commonwealth, we probably have one of the most supportive populations where I’ve ever been stationed. A race seemed like an ideal way to reach out to them.”
Sobchak also said the race coincides with military values.
“In the military, physical fitness is a big part of our life,” he said. “It’s a staple of the identity of Boston and Boston MetroWest. It’s home to the mecca of runners – the Boston Marathon. It’s the granddaddy of all marathons. The marathon runs right through Natick.”
The 5K event, which will take place June 23, will also benefit the Natick Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program.
The race is open to the NSSC workforce and to the public, and costs $10 for those ages 10 and older. Younger runners and walkers can participate free of charge.
Trophies will be awarded to the top three individual male and female finishers, and the first 200 to pre-register will receive race T-shirts.
Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by a one-mile run run/walk at 9 a.m. and then the five-kilometer cross-country race at 10 a.m.
The event will also feature displays from the Massachusetts National Guard and static displays of the work done at NSSC.
The center also recently displayed new technologies at an educational State House event earlier this month. The center develops all things that touch an American soldier's life, including GPS navigation systems, precision air-drops for supplies, and food with a two-year shelf life.
On a recent visit, U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh touted the Natick base as “valuable,” and laid out an argument to protect it from another round of looming military cuts.
To pre-register for the 5K race, send your name, email address and shirt size by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those wishing to volunteer for the registration table or as race monitors should e-mail John Harlow at email@example.com.
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org