Runners race during the 2011 No Fear In Love 6-Mile Race held on Saturday at George Mason University’s Prince William Campus. The race was organized to celebrate healthy dating relationships for 16 to 24-year olds. Photo by Antonieta Rico

About a dozen runners sprinted into the sunrise at 6:45 a.m. for the inaugural 2011 No Fear In Love 6-Mile Race on Saturday at George Mason University’s Prince William campus.

The race, dedicated to celebrating healthy relationships for young adults 16 to 24-years old, is a vision three years in the making for Karen Bontrager, a Mason student and the race organizer.

“This is a vision of what people deserve in life,” Bontrager said. “Love is being with someone that empowers you and champions you.”
Bontrager said the idea for the race came in an epiphany when she found herself in an abusive relationship.

“I’ve experienced the yelling, the screaming, the punching, all of that,” Bontrager said. “I want people to realize that if you have fear in a relationship, you need to reevaluate it.”

The “No Fear in Love” theme struck a chord in Richard Thomas, a sergeant with the Pentagon Police Department, who ran the race with his family.

“The whole family came out today because we support this,” said Thomas, who is also a fulltime student at Mason, majoring in criminology, law and society.

“I thought it was just a great idea to do this,” he said. “There are a lot of people who live in fear of their boyfriends or loved ones, and there is just no room in this world, nowadays, for living in fear.”

Plans for next year’s race are already brewing in Bontrager’s mind. She is hopeful for the future of the race and how it can help celebrate and highlight healthy relationships for young adults.

“I really believe this is going to change history,” Bontrager said.

Thomas says he hopes that his family’s participation in the event can help spread the word about the race.

“We are one person, but one person turns into four, which turns into more,” Thomas said.

Proceeds from the race will be donated to the Time To Fly Foundation, a faith-based organization that helps domestic violence survivors, Bontrager said.