Who would argue that the state of America’s health is dismal, bordering on apocalyptic-like statistics that should be nothing less than embarrassing as the world’s supposedly leading culture. I didn’t say it, but rather sourced too many media, blog and social sites making similar pokes at us. We’re big and bad in so many ways.
But this post is not intended to be a downer, an obesity bashing, a parents get your head out of your … and pay attention to what your kids are CONSUMING. Instead, I’m here to make my case for the beloved, the increasingly important 5K race. You’re asking yourself, who gives a flip about the 5K? That’s a weekend thing a few people in the neighborhood do to support a local charity. True. In 2011, the 5K was the #1 road race, attracting some 5.2 million finishers, claiming nearly 38 percent of all road race finishers. Sadly those numbers remain small in comparison to our population, but 13.9 million people stepped up to the starting line of a race in 2011 compared to 5.2 million 20 years early. That’s a 170 percent increase and an increase for the eighth consecutive year.
Ok, so I have a bunch of stats favoring the 5K. What we don’t realize or appreciate is the 5K is the perfect foundation for accomplishing so many things. Sure, interested in running your brains out in the spirit of ego, have at it. I do almost every weekend. What about looking for a venue, a vehicle to encourage you to get back into shape? The 5K is perfect. You can hide among the masses … as a number with a hat and dark shades, if you must. The 5K is also one of the best ways to bring neighborhoods, schools and charities together. It’s possibly the easiest (although not necessarily easy) to raise significant dollars for your organization.
5Ks support families whose children are battling grave diseases, remember neighbors whose lives were taken far too early, support the big charities like Susan G and ADA through local events. The 5K has become a reservoir at the edge of the dessert for so many and yet, so little attention and respect is given to its potential.
These days, I run approximately 35+ races a year, many of which are 5Ks. I’m always pleasantly surprised and relieved to a small extent to see so many families with young kids running these races on Saturdays. I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend. My son and I starting race this year and it’s an incredible treat, more than watching him play organized baseball, school sports or anything else for that matter.
So if you’re a runner, I would encourage you to take the time to run with the little dudes. If you’re a parent, getting your kid and yourself out for a 5K, well that should be the new “American Pastime.”