Many Coffee County residents are taking part in healthier, more active lifestyles.
Mirroring that trend, several civic organizations and charitable citizens have found that sponsoring 5K run/walks is an effective, fun way to raise money for their cause.
Manchester Parks and Recreation Director Bonnie Gamble has an active interest in the city’s heath consciousness.
“If you go back five to eight years ago, in our community, you would not have drawn this many people willing and able to run.”
She said that there are two primary reasons the mini-marathons are so successful.
First the fundraisers don’t involve a lot of overhead with prizes or products to sell.
“It’s a good fundraiser, but more importantly, people they wouldn’t be holding these if there wasn’t interest in these things.
“That’s the real story,” she said.
She attributes the interest to an increasing cultural awareness of obesity.
But she also feels that some credit should be given to local opportunities.
“I’d like to think that we’ve had an influence. We have a facility and the greenway where people can run safely and learn how to build up.”
She said, “More people are running and walking than ever before.”
Manchester Parks and Recreation’s parkpalooza included a 5K walk/run to celebrate the new stretch of the greenway that connects Rotary Park to the care-taker’s entrance of Old Stone Fort State Park.
Proceeds from the 5K will go to help build the new soccer field on the city property on North Waite Street.
Hillsboro Elementary School also held a run Saturday.
School Nurse Dawn Selvage organized the school’s event.
“Each year Hillsboro Elementary does a run to benefit a cause that affects the staff here. Last year we did cystic fibrosis because the gym teacher has [the disease],” she said.
This year’s beneficiary is the Alzheimer’s Association. The school set out to raise $4,000, according to Selvage. Last year’s run brought in just under $3,000.
In preparing for this year’s run, Selvage contacted the Alzheimer’s association and local sponsors, like Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Marcrom’s Pharmacy, who donated gift cards for first-, second- and third-place winners.
The office staff collected money to purchase a Kindle Fire for a random drawing for all the participants. Ellie Graham a fourth-grader at the school who finished 36th in the 5K, with a time of 37minutes and 43 seconds, won the Kindle Fire.
Children’s mile participant: Anabelle Layne, a fourth- grader from New Union Elementary, who completed the children’s mile in 7 minutes, 32 seconds, won the drawing for a bicycle, the door prize for the children’s mile.
Selvage said that the school has programs that help fight childhood obesity.
“Our children participated in the Music City Marathon, and have been running after school,” Selvage said.
Selvage agrees that the push for activity and fitness is in part a result of a growing awareness of the dangers associated with obesity.
She said that diabetes and heart disease are the two most common dangers.
“The body mass index numbers are going up for children. So there’s a big push for kids to be more active.”
The school’s nutrition team started the run as a community project that would also promote fitness.
“There are a lot of people who come out and walk it, who never run a race.”
Before last year, Selvage had never run a race.
“I wouldn’t have run unless my house was on fire,” she joked.
Selvage and Hillsboro Elementary principal Traci McCoy ran in the event.
“I think it was a little over,” Selvage said after the run. “The mid-point was coming up that hill. [The sheriff deputies] waved for us to come on to the top.”
While it sounds daunting, the five kilometers, or just over three miles, is challenging but not prohibitive, said Justin Thurman of Rainbow City, Ala., who participated in the event.
“Anyone can run a 5K.”
Dressed in running attire – pulse monitor and iPod strapped to his arm, Thurman said that at one point he weighed over 240 pounds.
“I was able to lose weight and get myself in condition to run a 5K.
“There are iPhone apps to build you to run.”
Running, he adds, reduces stress and offers him time to be alone with his thoughts.
“And I love giving to a good charity,” Thurman said.
The lead runner at the Hillsboro 5K was Brad Chronister, 25, from Tullahoma, finishing in 17 minutes, 55 seconds. The second-place winner, Kyle Maples, 15, of Murfreesboro, was last year’s first-place winner. He ran this year’s race in 22 minutes and 24 seconds.
Winners of the Parkpalooza run were overall winners Luke Wilson, 24:39, and Jennifer Graf 25:48 (3rd overall).
In the 70-79 year-old category, Sue Yother finished with a time of 39:38.