COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Maybe Chad Berger was taking a chapter out of Smooth Operator’s book, but the reigning PBR Stock Contractor of the Year came out of nowhere to surge into the lead at the start of the 2ndAnnual Rider Relief Fund Support the Sport 5K, presented by Cooper Tires, outside The Broadmoor World Arena on Friday night.
Berger’s lead was extremely short-lived, but Berger may have just earned himself a chance at being selected in the NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon thanks to his 40-yard dash at the beginning of the race that caught everyone by surprise.
“I am all about this sport,” Berger said. “I Iove this sport. Rider Relief stands for a great cause and helps keep these young kids going when they do get hurt. I am a fan of all the bull riders. They are all my friends.
“No one can say I didn’t lead the race.”
Chad Berger (right) jumped into the lead quickly at the Rider Relief Fund Support the Sport 5K.
Friday night was not Berger’s first time assisting the Rider Relief Fund. In 2013, Berger raised $6,000 for the nonprofit organization at his annual Touring Pro Division event in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The mission of the Rider Relief Fund is to provide financial assistance to athletes, bull riders and bullfighters injured in the competitive sport of bull riding.
The race consisted of 43 runners and various riders such as Reese Cates, Gage Gay and Brady Sims showed up in support of the cause, as well as a dozen volunteers.
Ashley Robinson took home the race victory in 23 minutes and 21 seconds.
Bryan Titman, who had attempted six bulls earlier in the week, was the lone bull rider to run in the race and said it was important to show support for the organization that will be there for him if anything ever goes wrong inside the arena.
“I am just trying to help out a good cause,” Titman said. “It is amazing. Us getting hurt, we really don’t have anything to lean back on once we do get hurt. We are out and we are not making any money, so this right here can help us out and make us get healthy and come back.”
Flint Rasmussen took part in the race for the second year in a row and said he had to participate again when he learned Berger was running.
“I have this little competitive edge in me,” Rasmussen said. “If there is a foot race of any sort, my nature as a kid is to get in it. Plus, it is a good cause. If Chad Berger is in this, there is no way I am sitting.”
Cooper Tires’ Chris Pantani also ran in the race – his first ever 5K – and said that Cooper Tires always enjoys supporting the Rider Relied Fund.
“For Cooper Tires, Rider Relief is very strong and very close to our heart,” Pantani said. “We want to make sure it is strong. At the end of the day, it is about supporting Rider Relief and helping the athletes out. We are there for them and we enjoy this organization.
“If it is running a 5K or 10K, whatever it takes, we are going to be a part of the cause.”
The run was part of The Colorado Springs Gazette PBR Fan Zone on Friday night, which featured the Kory Brunson Band and Chase Rice performing during the Y96.9’s Kickoff Concert, presented by Dr. Pepper.
Berger spent part of the evening mingling with fans and posing for photos and signing autographs.
“I want to see the sport grow,” Berger concluded. “I am not in it for one year. I am in it for life. When I am done I want to hand this to my kids. The only way to do that is to make sure this is still rocking.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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