Running the Good Race

There are so many ways to stay in shape and lose weight, and one of the fastest ways is irrefutably running. You lace up, you hit the streets, you set your course for GO. It’s simple and inexpensive to do, you can do it anywhere, and there’s nothing that compares to that runner’s high: the rush of endorphins, the satisfaction of knowing that you put your whole self into hitting your mark. And while not everyone experiences “hitting the wall,” running really is a rewarding way to sweat it all out.

So much more so when you’re not just running for yourself, but for a greater good. It’s amazing to realize that your sweat equity is paying off in big ways, that every mile and every last meter is getting you closer to a finish line that signifies you giving back. That’s exactly what charity races are all about, and as more and more communities organize races whose proceeds benefit local charitable organizations or causes, it’s incredible to look around and see so many others who are willing to get in on the action.

There’s a unique sort of unity that forms in that, a natural camaraderie with those gathered around you at the starting line. Strangers become friends and cheerleaders, and the road is the great equalizer. Running sees no social status or ethnicity, no cultural divide. All that matters is that you’re there and that you’re giving it your all. There’s a win in all of us as we push on, mile after mile, and there’s something extremely self-affirming in knowing that you CAN achieve what you’ve set out to do. And whether you’re among the first to cross the line or in with the stragglers at the end, there’s the same amount of cheering waiting for you. You have contributed to the cause as much as anyone else—and that’s certainly reason to party.

“Local races raise money for non-profits and scholarships, and being able to show support for those causes is often the reason that so many people—whether they’re fast or slow—want to participate in the races,” says Valerie Hunter-Kelley, CEO/Team Leader for the Air Assault Team at Keller Williams Realty. An avid Clarksville runner who has been participating in both local and national charity races for the past six years, Hunter-Kelley now boasts 43 states under her racing shoes and understands first-hand the ways that running for a shared cause can unify even the most diverse crowd. “Running or walking for a common goal allows unlikely people to come together unlike anything else. It makes a sometimes-painful experience fun, and it’s great to be encouraged and to be able to encourage others while you’re out there together. Whether it’s a 5k or a half-marathon, the races in our community have allowed me to meet people I might otherwise never have met, and it’s one of the best ways to see the area and connect with others.”

From starting gun to finish line, charity races are a uniting force, bringing people together as they sweat it out on the road, contributing their time and energy to a common cause. It’s a worthy reason to lace up and put one foot in front of the other, and that’s a motivation unlike any other.