Upsurge of group running events connects community

January 2, 2020 | 3:05 am

Updated January 2, 2020 | 11:25 am

Photo contributed by Dylan Hammons

On Wednesday, 171 runners and walkers kicked off 2020 with the ProjectRise and Rehabilitation & Performance Institute’s New Year’s Day Run, nearly doubling last year’s attendance. Event organizers brought together a community that included all, paces marking the first free community running event of many for 2020.

“When we pulled up just in time for it to start, and we saw just how full the parking lot was. We were so excited to see just how many people came out together to do something active,” said Shelly Tyler, vice president and physical therapist at RPI. “That’s kind of overall our mission to help bring health and wellness to the community. To see that massive of a group, it was exciting to see that there is an impact being made.”

Tyler explained that over the past 10 years, there has been an upsurge in the community’s desire to connect with each other and be active. Her team is looking forward to the start of the Wendell Foster 13.1 Training Runs beginning this Saturday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 a.m..

“Last year was a great turnout. The race itself was a great day, and it was executed seamlessly,” Tyler said.

Race proceeds help Wendell Foster serve over 2,000 people a year under their mission. The group runs leading up to race day are free and open to the public. Officials simply ask that everyone sign a waiver.

“We understand taking on a half marathon can be a daunting task, so we want to make that as achievable as possible,” said John Gleason, director of community outreach at Wendell Foster. “We are working with RPI, Owensboro Health and Legends. We’ll be starting out at 5 miles and leading up to 12 miles before the half marathon.”

Last year the half marathon training runs averaged around 65 people with the most in attendance at approximately 90. Based on the turnout of the New Year’s Day Run, they are hopeful they’ll have a large gathering as well, keeping up the momentum for the mission of Wendell Foster, and continuing the comradery in the running community.

“This far out, you have plenty of time to train and a great community to support you,” shared Gleason noting the race is still three months away. “We have a 4-hour time limit, so you have plenty of time to even do a walk/run, even if you can’t run the full 13.1 miles come race day.”

Lots of giveaways are in store for Saturday’s training run. Participants will have a chance to win two Wendell Foster race entries, four training sessions to RPI, a pair of running shoes donated by Legends, and a two-month membership to Owensboro Health Healthpark.

“We’ll have a wide range of pacers there to help anyone of all abilities. Anywhere from a 6 ½ minute mile to 15-minute mile, we’ll have someone there to hopefully run with you,” shared Gleason.

Gleason and Tyler both shared in the joy of having so many opportunities within our community to do group runs and live an active lifestyle.

“I think we have a huge community of people that like to do different things, not only just running, but triathlons, a huge cycling community in town, and the opportunity for group fitness classes. A lot of times people just aren’t aware of how much there is,” said Tyler. “It’s about finding that right group that you can be in community with, not just the social aspect, but accountability and having people to support each other in their journey is really important.”

Including the Wendell Foster 13.1 Training Runs, runners and walkers are encouraged to participate in numerous free running groups each week. Legends  hosts a group run every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., and the Owensboro Health Healthpark meets at the same time on Thursday’s. For an early morning option, ProjectRise, hosts runs year-round every Thursday morning at the riverfront starting at 5:29 a.m..

“We want to empower people to make healthy, active lifestyle changes,” said Tyler. “Making a consistent effort to do something active a couple of times a week will make a huge change in someone’s life. We know it doesn’t just affect them physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.”

January 2, 2020 | 3:05 am

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