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COLUMN

Runners have opportunity to give back

Area to host a pair of unique races

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 3:04 am

'Tis the season: to give to those in need, to come together in the holiday spirit and to keep those legs moving and lungs heaving or else your New Year's Resolution will be nearly impossible.

This week are two great opportunities for area runners to do all three: Wednesday's “12-12-12 12K” at Shoaff Park and Saturday's “The Gift 5K” at Hickory Center Elementary (behind Carroll H.S.) The former is billed as a once in a lifetime run while the later has become a great holiday tradition and is in sixth's year.

Three Rivers Running Company, the area's only running and triathlon specialty shop, is presenting the first and last “12-12-12 12K” beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the main pavilion. The entry fee is appropriate for this time of year: non-perishable food items which will be given to the Community Harvest Food Bank.

The race will not be timed and there will be no awards. But, there will be a race shirt exchange: bring an unwanted shirt from another race and trade it with another runner.

Oh, and 12 kilometers is approximately 7.4 miles.

“The Gift 5K” was the brainchild of Brian Shepherd and myself, back in 2007 as a way for the running community to come together and show its appreciation for Jed Pearson, webmaster of RunIndiana.com. Pearson was so moved that he wanted to continue the race each year with a different recipient.

Because of it's proximity to Christmas, “The Gift 5K” has taken on an “It's a Wonderful Life” flavor. This year there is a slight change: instead of a particular area runner, the recipient will be Hurricane Sandy victims. All proceeds will be given to the American Red Cross of Northeastern Indiana.

“We start thinking (about a recipient) around the first of November each year,” Pearson said. “And this year, right at that time, Hurricane Sandy was such a story. And, it still is. So, we want to encourage area runners to come together and help those out east.”

“The Gift 5K” has a suggested race day entry fee of $15 and includes a race t-shirt. But all donations will be accepted and there will be overall and age division awards as in all of Shepherd's races.

The title sponsor of the race, as it has always been, is Fred Toenges Shoes and Pedorthics.

“I love the spirit of the race,” Shepherd said.

The race begins at 10 a.m. at Hickory Center with registration beginning at 9 a.m.

For more information, contact Shepherd at 260-894-4638.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Brett Hess at nssports@news-sentinel.com .