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    Posted July 28, 2014 by
    Williamson, West Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Convince us your city is healthy!

    Running beyond labels...


    Hi, I'm Alexis Batausa and my city inspires me to keep going with so much opportunity when it comes to being healthy.


    It all started in June '12 when there was closed off 5K race during the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon. It drew people from a program called the Lunch Walk through the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition. The goal of the program was to walk from Williamson, WV to the coast of California. About 60 people showed up for it from Mingo and Pike County and that started the idea of having monthly 5K races here in Mingo County, WV.


    Williamson, WV is located in the southwestern part of the state and borders with Pike County, KY. Both states share the same barriers when it comes to the risk of diabetes and obesity. Unlike most cities, it is hard to live a healthy lifestyle when not being exposed to a lot of things. Things have been looking up for this part of region in the US especially with the rise of active living and healthy eating such as the Williamson Farmer's Market, Ramella Community Gardens, Mingo County Diabetes Coalition, and Williamson Health and Wellness Center.


    July 2012, the Tug Valley Road Runners Club started the initiative and starting partnering up with the Mingo County Diabetes Coalition. On July 6th, the first monthly 5K was put on and it was called the Fe 5K. The race took place on a Friday night and drew a crowd of 64 people for it's debut. Word started to spread about the races in the community and then something started to change. People were being more aware of these runners out there on side of the road and in their neighborhoods. People were out training and staying motivated for the next race. There goal was to finish but to beat their time and PR(Personal record). When August came around for another Friday Night Race, we saw new faces and spawn a change across the county.


    Ever since that first monthly race in July, our numbers has doubled drastically from 64 people to averaging over 100 people. You think that's pretty small but for this area, it means a lot! Other communities are doing it too to draw more people into this intoxicating feeling of being alive.


    With the numbers growing steadily and rising each month, we've had our largest turnout with more than 400 people during the Coal Dust Run. This race celebrates the heritage of coal mining in the area. Think color run but being dusted by imitation coal dust. The main event in the region is the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon which draws so many people across the US and world. This past June, the race broke records with 1250 participants, 46 states, and Canada.


    With the rising interest in running, they have planned group runs weekly, Tuesday Night Track, and long run weekends. Many of the participants in the 5K races have now transitioned into running half marathons and marathons.


    Remember, most of these people started out as walkers but gradually grew to be great runners and great role models.


    We are running beyond labels.

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