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LAKE WYLIE --
The running trend of raising money for charities through 5K runs and walks has caught on in Lake Wylie.
Until this year, the only running fundraiser event held at Lake Wylie has been the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerces annual Splash Dash 10K, 5K and 5K walk through River Hills Plantation.
We had more runners than ever before and got many compliments about how well-organized and nice this event is, said chamber president Susan Bromfield of the 19th annual event held in June.
There were more than 300 runners and walkers, with 113 taking on the 10K and 147 in the 5K.
Now, three family-friendly 5K events are planned in the Lake Wylie area. Lake Wylie Childrens Charity 5K is Saturday, Nov. 17, in Lake Wylie. The Cheer Challenge 5K run/walk is Sunday, Nov. 18, in Clover for Lake Wylie Athletic Associations cheerleaders. Lake Wylies Santas Sleigh 5K on Dec. 15 will be held at The Landing neighborhood in Lake Wylie to benefit two Clover High School programs.
One of the reasons I run is for my own personal and fitness goals, but I love that money is going to a cause, said Dina Smith, co-organizer of the Cheer Challenge 5K. I find it a win-win. Not too many sports does it come back around like that.
Brian Batson of Lake Wylie, a runner, is organizing Lake Wylies Santas Sleigh 5K.
I see that Lake Wylie is a pretty active community with people running up and down [Highway] 49, he said.
While he hasnt been able to run the Splash Dash, he said knowing how popular it is, I couldnt figure out why there wasnt another one here.
He said the 5K through The Landing wont be as tough as River Hills, billed as one of the most challenging courses in the Southeast.
I thought the community could support another one, he said of the 5K event.
Omega Sports sponsors many local 5Ks, including the upcoming Lake Wylie Childrens Charity on Saturday.
Allan Strickler, manager of Omega Sports in Rivergate shopping center since 2005, said, theres been a huge spike in the number of 5K, half marathon and marathons regionally, which reflects national trends.
In the last two to three years, there has been an increase in general in running, he said, because people are more aware of the benefits of running and walking, as well.
Pastor Jason Everson of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Lake Wylie is holding his second Run for God couch to 5K 12-week program. The first group, which met in the spring, had about 30 participants. The group running now, has about 40. Runners also connect through Facebook, including more than 90 members on Lake Wylie Running.
According to runningusa.org, a not-for-profit organization devoted to improving the status and experience of distance running and racing in the United States through marketing, information and communications, the sport of running has boomed over the last decade.
According to the site, Americans are running in record numbers, buying more running shoes and apparel despite the sluggish economy, using technology and apps to enhance their runs and raising money for charity via road races in record amounts.
Running USA reports in 2011, there were a record 13.9 million road race finishers in this country compared to 5.2 million in 1991 - a 170 percent increase.
In short, the boom continues, and it is being led by women as U.S. road race finishers, once the province of men 20 to 30 years ago, are now predominantly female (55 percent compared to 25 percent in 1990), the site states.
Running USA says reasons driving the growth include community, family-centered, fun events; charity and non-charity training programs and their social impact; access to running information via the internet and the use of technology for registration, timing, websites, email, social media, smart phone apps.
In the past five years, off-road, mud, obstacle course race series such as Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Spartan Race and Muddy Buddy have frown to one million.
By the numbers
2011 U.S. Road Running Snapshot, according to runningusa.com: