Meet our awesome Race Director: Karin Romans

Karin Romans has been working in fundraising for 15 years, and is currently director of development at a national nonprofit called Schools That Can. But in her “spare” time, Romans has taken on the awesome task of volunteering as Race Director for the HoBOOken 5k. A lot goes into planning a successful race in a […]

Karin Romans has been working in fundraising for 15 years, and is currently director of development at a national nonprofit called Schools That Can. But in her “spare” time, Romans has taken on the awesome task of volunteering as Race Director for the HoBOOken 5k. A lot goes into planning a successful race in a highly populated urban area, and Romans was kind enough to take the time to answer a few of my burning questions about the 8th edition of this very unique annual event.

How long has the HoBOOken 5k been going, and how has it grown?

The race was launched by the Hoboken Elysianettes in 2010. In 2015, the Elysianettes passed on the race to a group of five volunteers, and since then it’s been managed by the Hoboken Shelter volunteers. My husband and I have been involved since 2015 and have organized the race each year. It’s grown in both size and the amount that’s given to the Shelter. In 2015, we crested giving $50,000 back to the Shelter for the first time and this year, we’re hoping to give $70,000 back. Last year we raised $65,000 to support Shelter programs. Today we have over 1,500 runners and about 2,000 people out on the Pier. Last year, thanks to the involvement of Little Hoboken, we grew our one-mile kids’ race, called the Scary Scurry Run, from 100 kids to nearly 300. The race is fast becoming a Hoboken tradition with great support from Hoboken businesses, residents and community groups. We’ve also really grown our group of volunteers. What started nearly five years ago as five volunteers to become a group of nearly 15–20 dedicated individuals who donate their time and expertise from May through November each year to see that this event is successful.

What does the money go to?

All the money goes to the Hoboken Shelter, which helps the homeless in our community. The Hoboken Shelter was founded just over 35 years ago to help get people back on their feet. Today, they provide 50 people shelter nightly, provide over 500 meals a day and provide 1,000 showers to people weekly. In addition to food and shelter, they provide supportive services including case management, counseling, job and life skills training, creative arts workshops, emergency homelessness prevention grants, & permanent supportive housing solutions. In 2017, the shelter helped 107 move from the shelter into their own homes, ending homelessness in Hoboken by a rate of two people per week. The Hoboken Shelter is just over a million dollar organization that works with a lean staff to help the homeless. Their efforts are supplemented by the volunteers who help organize this race and donate their time, enabling us to give 100% of proceeds back after expenses. The funds support programming and operating expenses at the Shelter.

Do you run? If so, do you wear a costume?

I do run! I’ve run a number of race and triathlons for fun. I got involved because I was a fundraising volunteer at the shelter. I walked into the shelter nine years ago and mentioned casually to the Executive Director that I worked in fundraising and was looking for a local organization to get involved with… and we’ve not stopped working together since. I helped organize the shelter’s 30th gala, but really found a niche with the 5k. Since 2014, I’ve been a development consultant with the shelter fort a few hours per month, mostly focused on all their fundraising operations, so this race is a labor of love. I had run the race several times with my husband, as Wonder Woman and Superman, and then when the opportunity came up to help organize the race, it seemed like a great fit. I love the shelter’s mission to move people from the streets to the shelter to a home of their own. The race seemed like a great fit for a fundraiser-slash-runner.

Any favorite costumes you’ve witnessed over the years?

Hmmm, probably the Scooby Doo gang? And I was overwhelmingly impressed last year by a guy who wore a Joker costume, likely made of polyester, who still managed to come in second in his age group! I’m probably the worst person to ask this, since I tend not to notice anything on race day, as there are a million things coming at you at once. It’s not until afterward, looking through photos, that I get to really appreciate the costumes.

Do you have any protips for someone participating in this year’s 5k?

Yes, contact Fleet Feet in Hoboken! They are great supporters of the race and they also have a great beginners’ running program. And you can always view the “training” section on our website, which was put together by one of our team members who helped to redesign the site and develop a project management plan for us.

Thanks so much to Romans for her time. If you want to support the race, well, I do have a team fundraising page—or, if you are in the New York City area, join us! Register here and get your heart pumping—and your costume ready.

probably the Scooby Doo gang? And I was overwhelmingly impressed last year by a guy who wore a Joker costume, likely made of polyester, who still managed to come in second in his age group! I’m probably the worst person to ask this, since I tend not to notice anything on race day, as there are a million things coming at you at once. It’s not until afterward, looking through photos, that I get to really appreciate the costumes.

Do you have any protips for someone participating in this year’s 5k?

Yes, contact Fleet Feet in Hoboken! They are great supporters of the race and they also have a great beginners’ running program. And you can always view the “training” section on our website, which was put together by one of our team members who helped to redesign the site and develop a project management plan for us.

Susie Felber of Weehawken Strong interviewed Karin Romans, you can read the full article here.