LAKE WYLIE — A Lake Wylie pastor is ready to help people get fit – physically and spiritually.
Jason Everson of Good Samaritan United Methodist Church has been helping others grow in two areas he loves: the Bible and running. Last January, he launched his first class of the 12-week couch to 5K running program called Run for God.
He ran another program in the fall, and now welcomes community members to join him for the third session beginning Jan. 22.
“If you’ve seen this [program] before and thought about doing this, now is the time,” Everson said. “Stop putting it off, or at least call me so I can talk you into it.”
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.
“We’ve had runners of all shapes, sizes and ages,” Everson said. “You just gotta run your race, and shuffling counts.”
Everson was happily surprised by the number of participants in his first group – 33. His second group saw 36 make it to completion running at the Speed for Children in Need 5K in December at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
“I thought that one would be fun, and I really wanted to run on the speedway,” admitted Everson.
Everson, training for his fourth marathon in May in Minnesota, had never coached others on running before he started Run for God locally.
“I was little more experienced and prepared for how to coach them through the common pitfalls,” he said of his second group.
Plus, he said, the way the program is set up, “It’s a safe and fun way to learn how to run.”
Everson isn’t sure which 5K this group will complete, but they will run it in April.
“Weather-wise it’s the best time to do it,” he said. “I’d love to see people from the first groups come back and do it again.”
Many participants from his original group continue to run, he said, running 10Ks and planning half marathons. But one of the most important aspects of the program, of course, is the spiritual journey.
“You may be on the couch spiritually but at the end, you could be running a strong, spiritual race,” Everson. “During the 12 weeks, it’s not just about the basics of running but a deeper understanding of God.”
Most of the past participants have not been 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.”
Laura Compton of Lake Wylie, part of the first group, continues to run and offers support to Run for God participants.
“Laura helped out tremendously with logistics and will be helping again,” Everson said.
Everson said the only thing holding people back is fear.
“You can do this,” he said. “If people give themselves half a chance, they’d be surprised.”
Run for God will meet weekly at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Jan. 22 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.