Monday, April 2, 2012

Tour deCatur: Running is a Family Affair

On March 24, Decatur hosted its namesake race --Tour deCatur. This is one of those events where the whole community comes out to support it. At the Decatur elementary schools, students participated in track clubs to train for the 1-mile race distance.

This was my second year running the race with my daughter and husband. And it was one of my proudest moments as a runner. I loved watching my child complete the 1-mile course while maintaining a steady pace. I was watching a budding athlete and my future running partner come to life.

My pride was shared by hundreds of parents who joined their children on the race course. More than 800 kids participated. My neighbor Nick ran the 5K distance with his 3rd-grader. It was great to see his son’s excitement and anticipation as he prepared for his first 5K race.

Proceeds from the event directly benefit Decatur schools through the Decatur Education Foundation. It funds educational programs in the schools and provides financial aid to students and their families whose situation may impact the child’s success in school. One of the foundation’s programs provides “Book Fair Bucks” to students who otherwise would not be able to purchase books on their own.

A love of running and a love of learning … thank you Decatur Education Foundation for hosting an event that delivers both to our community.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Photo Blog: Scenes from Publix Georgia Marathon

The city of Decatur marks the half-way point for runners in the Publix Georgia Marathon. Here are some scenes from this morning's race.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Atlanta Running: Falling in Love with the 10K

I love running neighborhood races. I discover streets and running routes while helping out a local cause. But my focus on races had been 5Ks and the Georgia Half-Marathon. 10Ks? Never gave them serious consideration. In fact, the last 10K I ran was nearly a decade ago at the Peachtree.

So I decided to give the 10K another try. Last Sunday I ran a new race, the Intown 10K. The route traveled through one of my favorite running neighborhoods – Virginia-Highland. Race Director Ed Williams delivered a great event. Enough people to feel like a race but not too many to crowd the street. A picturesque, winding route. Easy parking. A comfy, long-sleeve T-shirt.

And I loved the distance. I forgot how much fun a 10K is to run. Over the past few years, my winter running was dedicated to training for the half-marathon distance. This year, I wasn’t in the mood to train. The 10K event is a great option to get a decent weekend run without the need to actually train for it.

While 5K events dominate the spring racing schedule, there are a few 10K races to consider:

Hoppin’ Easter Half Marathon/5K/10K – April 8
This race takes places in Snellville along a bike path in a scenic park. Registration is available at Find more information at the event web site.

Spring K Classic 5K & 10K Run – April 14
Hosted by the Historic Roswell Kiwanis Club, the race benefits children and youth projects undertaken by the club. Sign-up before April 1 to avoid an increase in the race fee. Register online at

NCR Spring for Cancer 5K, 10K and Fun Run – April 21
Lace up your running shoes for this Sandy Springs event. Proceeds benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Bring your strollers and dogs - this race is family and pet friendly. More information is available at the event site.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunshine Gives a Warm Welcome to Decatur’s Run with The Dogs Frostbite 5K

This time last year, metro Atlanta was preparing for the “snowpocalypse.” What a difference a year makes.

Mother Nature delivered a warm greeting to Decatur’s first 5K of the year. With temperatures in the mid-fifties and flashes of sunshine, it felt more like an early spring race than the start of January. It was enough to have me singing hallelujah.

I loved this race for several reasons:

- A late-morning start time of 9 a.m. (who doesn’t love sleeping in?)
- The race start is a ten-minute jog from my house (no need for MARTA or a car)
- Proceeds benefit Decatur schools
- Four-legged runners (a.k.a. dogs) welcomed
- A winding and interesting course

As a Decatur resident and runner, I thought I knew every street in the city. But the course for this race let me discover a few more. The Frostbite 5K was the first race in the Team Decatur Grand Slam Fitness Challenge. Team Decatur is open to residents who are interested in meeting their neighbors while participating in road races. Other races that are part of the Grand Slam series include Tour deCatur 5K, Take Back the Night 5K and the Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk.

Looking for more January races? Here are a few to consider:

MLK Day 5K – January 16
This Buckhead road race invites runners to register their school, PTA, church or favorite charity as a race beneficiary. Dozens of local organizations are already listed as recipients. The race kicks off at 9 a.m.

Tartan Trot 5K/10K – January 28
St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church hosts this annual Dunwoody event. Proceeds benefit a variety of community organizations and ministry programs supported by the church. Both the 5K and 10K races start at 8:30 a.m.

Atlanta Mission 5K – January 28
According to the event site, Atlanta has more than 8,000 homeless men, women and children and the Atlanta Mission serves nearly 1,000 of the homeless every day. Runners are encouraged to set up individual fundraising goals. All registration fees and fundraising directly benefit the Atlanta Mission. The race starts at 8:30 a.m.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Support Your Local Running Stores during Small Business Saturday

It’s Black Friday and there’s no doubt about it ....the holiday shopping season has arrived. Crowds mob the aisles and parking lots of national retailers to score deals on merchandise.

If you’ve got a runner on your gift list, consider spending your dollars with a locally-owned business. American Express launched Small Business Saturday last year to encourage shoppers to include small businesses on their holiday shopping list.

Here in Atlanta, we’ve got plenty of local running stores to choose from. Do your part to help support businesses that in turn support our communities.

Big Peach Running Co.
With six locations in the metro Atlanta area, Big Peach Running Co. is a local chain that delivers a neighborhood experience. I like the fact that my neighborhood store in Decatur hosts group runs on Tuesday and Thursday evenings along with Saturday mornings. Store hours on Saturday are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Fleet Feet
Fleet Feet is a nationwide chain, but its stores are individually owned and operated by local small business owners. Fleet Feet Decatur's owners, Clay and Karen Scarborough, live in walking distance to their store -- you don't get more local than that. They’ll gladly welcome your business on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

One Step At A Time
Charles Cope opened his running store in the neighborhood where he grew up. One Step At A Time has called the Oakhurst neighborhood of Decatur home for 10 years. The Oakhurst Running Club meets at the store for its Wednesday night and Saturday morning runs. Store hours on Saturday are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Atlanta’s Olympic great, Jeff Galloway, started Phidippides in the 70’s. A true visionary, Jeff recognized the need to offer both novice and experienced runners a shopping experience where they could get advice from staff trained in the science of shoe fitting. Phidippides’ two Atlanta locations are opened on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

West Stride
West Stride’s owner, Genie Beaver, hosts some of the best training runs I’ve joined. Genie greets runners with a warm welcome, beverages along with running routes and a great post-run spread of breakfast treats. Genie’s also a big supporter of Girls On The Run, on of my favorite youth programs. West Stride is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Watch Out for Zombies! New Road Race Series Comes to North Georgia

The TV-show, The Walking Dead, featured a commercial for a different type of road race in 2012. Promoted as a “zombie-infested” event, the Run for Your Life 5K race has both natural and unnatural (e.g. zombies) obstacles along the course. The nationwide series lists Atlanta as an event site, but actually it’s taking place in Union Point, GA … a nearly two-hour drive from the metro Atlanta area.

So what the heck is a zombie-obstacle course? And what can runners expect?

Here are a few highlights from the event site:

Yes, there will be zombie.
Race organizers don’t disclose too many details about the types of zombies runners can expect (e.g. are they “walking dead” or “running dead” zombies?). Runners are encouraged to train well and prepare for the unexpected.

How exactly does this race work?
It’s a mash-up of flag football and obstacle course. Runners wear belts with “health” flags. While it may be fun to think the zombies are after your brains, what they really want are the “health” flags. Loose all your flags and you loose the race.

Party like it’s the end of the world.
Race organizers promise a party to die for. While there’s no line-up listed for the Atlanta area event, the Apocalypse Party will feature live bands, food, drinks and a marketplace. With a nearly two-hour drive from metro Atlanta, runners may want to consider the camping package.

Keep your hands to yourself.
With an event that has the potential to be as chaotic as a zombie-themed obstacle course, it’s not surprising that there are a few rules. Even though runners are being chased by zombies, participants are prohibited from intentional contact with the zombies or other participants. Weapons (such as axes to kill zombies) are banned. Pets and small children are also not permitted. Otherwise, have a good time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hey Atlanta … Hit the Trail with The North Face® Endurance Challenge

Last year, The North Face Endurance Challenge made its debut at Georgia’s F.D. Roosevelt State Park. The event was blessed with fine weather and robust participation. My friend and colleague, Kevin Coffey, ran the 10K race and loved the experience. He’ll be back on the trail this year running the half-marathon distance.

The following video gives an overview of the fun and thrills runners can expect:

This year’s event promises to offer the same exhilarating scenery and challenging terrain. Here’s what you can expect:

• A range of seven races suited for runners of varying abilities … from the 5K to the Gore-Tex® 50-Mile run.
• Single-track trails with lots of natural obstacles (e.g. tree roots, rocks, bushes, branches).
• An environmentally-conscience event. On-site efforts include recycling bins, complimentary water bottles, filling stations and sustainable practices in keeping with Leave No Trace. Runners also get a redemption code to receive a virtual race bag.
• Pre-Race Panel discussion featuring legendary trail running champion Dean Karnazes.

The participant’s guide offers plenty of details, including course maps and descriptions of the terrain for each race event. With registrations outpacing last year’s inaugural event, you can expect a good crowd.

Not up for a trail race? Consider volunteering. According to organizers, volunteer help is essential to the event’s success. As you can imagine with an event of this magnitude, there is a wide range of volunteer jobs … everything from parking to food tents and aid stations.