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LAKE WYLIE --
A Lake Wylie pastor is welcoming his community to join him on a new journey.
Jason Everson of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church is starting a 12-week couch to 5K running program called Run for God starting Sept. 18.
“It’s designed for people who have never run in their lives or have a desire to start running again,” said Everson.
Everson, a marathoner preparing for a November race in North Carolina, held the same program earlier this year.
“One of the things I loved was being a motivator,” he said. “Several of them are continuing their running habit.”
The nationwide program started with Mitchell Hollis of Dalton, Ga., donning a T-shirt declaring “Run for God” with a stick figure drawing.
The program now is being run in more than 400 churches in more than 40 states across the country. The program trains participants by walking for a minute and running 30 seconds for 30 minutes three times a week, until eventually being able to run 30 minutes to complete a 5K. The group will run in the Dec. 8 Speed for Children in Need 5K at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“During the 12 weeks, it’s not just about the basics of running but a deeper understanding of God,” Everson said. “I think it was a good release for a lot of people looking to accomplish something.”
Of the 33 runners who completed the program, six were Good Samaritan congregation members.
“I served as pastor for a lot of people in that time,” he said. “We had a wide range of faith and athletic experiences, and it was cool to see how those two blended together so well.”
Laura Compton of Lake Wylie was part of the first group. Though not a member of the church, she said she found the premise of Run for God inviting.
“As far as spiritual health, it’s as important as physical health so that intrigued me,” she said. “It was a great program for overall general wellness and the camaraderie within our group, it became almost an extended family.”
Compton, who continues to run since the first program ended with a 5K in April, said she walked away with more than a fitness goal.
“The friendships that developed from the group are one of the greatest things, and the motivation to continue running,” she said. “And Jason was an inspirational person, his humor and motivation are contagious.”
Compton, in fact, will be volunteering with the second group.
“It was so inspirational to see people achieve their goals in such a short amount of time,” she said. “I want to help others meet their goal.”
Everson said he’s hoping runners from his first program will come out Sept. 18 to provide support for new members.
The group will meet weekly at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at the church, 5220 Crowders Cove Lane. Experts will talk about preventing injury, proper nutrition and proper footwear. The Run for God book costs $19 and includes “everything you need to know about running and then some.”
To register or for more information, call 803-831-0304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.