By Woody Woodrick
Is it the health benefits or the fun and fellowship?
Maybe it’s both.
Whatever the cause, the second annual Arise, Shine, Run! 5K attracted more participants than the inaugural event held last year.
The Rev. Lisa Garvin, who served as coordinator both years, said she thinks the conference’s emphasis on health compelled some 100 participants and another 20 or so volunteers to get up in time for the 6:30 a.m. start.
“Did we do a better job of advertising or is the health and wellness initiative working?” Garvin mused. “I think the initiative is working.
“I also think the word has gotten out that it’s just fun.”
Health and wellness, both physical and spiritual, is one of five priorities for ministry adopted by the Mississippi Conference in 2005. The run/walk was started as part of that initiative.
Jim Taylor of Brandon, the first runner to complete the 3.1-mile course, agreed that the event speaks to healthy lifestyles. “I think it was great because of the camaraderie of everybody here with one accord of being in good health.
“This is a statement by the conference that we need to take our health seriously,” he said.
Garvin said this year’s event had a noticeably better turnout. “Our pre-registration was not much different, but I feel like more people showed up this year,” Garvin said.
Participants were asked to pre-register for the event, but pre-registration was not required. Those who pre-registered received a T-shirt and a bag of gear and were eligible for door prizes, which were provided by Fleet Feet, a running specialty store in Ridgeland.
As was the case in 2005, the majority of participants walked the 3.1-mile course. Last year the walk covered just one mile.
“That’s not surprising,” said Garvin of the number of walkers. “It tells me that everybody can participate.”
Indeed, the event attracted all ages, from youth to seniors. One participant showed her support by covering part of the course on her motorized chair. When she arrived back at Christ United Methodist Church, where the race began and ended, she drew laughs from the crowd when she said, “My thumb is so sore from holding down this button!”
Taylor actually ran a little farther than the others because he didn’t realize he had already passed the finish line. “
I didn’t run last year, so I didn’t know where the finish line was,” he said with a laugh.
Taylor said he runs about 4.5 miles five days a week. He said he thinks the event could attract more runners. “It’s just something that you have to build up to. We could have 100 people doing the run,” he said.
The 5K run was the second health-related event held during conference week. A 28-mile bicycle ride, called the Circuit Ride, was held June 10 as a complementary event. It followed a course along the Natchez Trace from near Raymond to Rocky Springs.
At least three people took part in both events. Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, her husband Mike Ward and Clare Biedenharn rode in the Circuit Ride and walked or ran in the Arise, Shine, Run! Jim Biedenharn, who helped organize the bike ride, was part of the support staff for the run.