RAPID CITY, SD — The Tom Pfeifle Memorial 5k run/walk took place on Saturday for its sixth year, giving people time to remember or learn more about the 19-year-old whose name the run is named for. At Raider Park, the 5k sees participants running and walking on trails that are named after Pfeifle.
“We honor the memory of Tom Pfeifle, who was a phenomenal young man of 19 who lived his best life,” said Diane Tschetter, president of Tom Pfeifle Memorial Nonprofit. “He was a runner, a climber, a biker. He was a straight student. He was a musician, an athlete. He was nice and he was just a wonderful young man.
The 5k is a great way to remember him because of his own enjoyment of the outdoors.
Each year the event has progressed and grown.
“During COVID, we had a little drop. We had to do a virtual year and then kind of got out of COVID last year,” Tschetter said. “But I think it will be our biggest event ever.”
There were 496 pre-registered participants and with the walk-ins there were probably over 500 for the race.
The Stevens High School Drumline even went out of their way to support the runners/walkers.
“We love having them. They help inspire the crowd as we get ready to run and walk,” Tschetter said. “We have the arch at the top of the hill, and I think we have a running clock. I haven’t been there yet, but it should be a lot of fun.
On their course, three laps would complete a 5k, but if people just wanted to take a lap, that was fine.
But the race also makes it possible to share the story of Tom Pfeifle.
“We want everyone to know Tom’s story, and that’s one of the ways we can do that by having this event, by knowing the things that were important,” Tschetter said. “He cared about creation. He cared about the environment, and he was just passionate about these things. That’s what we want here. It is a natural park. We try to keep it natural. There are animals in the park.
“Tom was the one who, if you went hiking, came home with someone else’s litter. He never wanted a litter box. So we try to teach that to the next generation who may not have had the chance to experience it.
There was post-race food available and raffle tickets that could be purchased for a chance to win different baskets available.
According to the Tom Pfeifle 5k website, he was “an avid outdoorsman, scholar, musician, singer, athlete, and a joy to those around him. Tom believed in living life to the fullest, highest and best. And he enjoyed activities like running, hiking, climbing, and spending time with his friends and family.
At 19, he climbed Montana’s highest peak with friends in the summer of 2016. The park sign reads, “Tom fell on the descent and died of his injuries.
The sign also continues with ways to remember him “by adopting some of his habits: reduce, reuse, recycle, pick up trash on your way, shop at local thrift stores, camp under the stars, invite a new friend and always send a postcard.”
To learn more about Pfeifle, the 5k and its organizers, or to donate, you can visit the Tom Pfeifle 5k website.