If New Year’s marks the time for many people to focus on their health, New Year’s Day usually gets off to a slow start.
Some people nurse hangovers. Many sit on couches, eat junk food and watch football. Others start online searches for health club memberships.
Three years ago, local runner Lisa Deaton set out to provide an alternative, at least for how locals start their New Year's Day.
Deaton is the founder of the Race the Landing 5K series, a very social, five-race series, held in May, June and July at Charles Towne Landing since 2012. She decided to add a similar event on New Year’s Day morning.
“There was nothing healthy (event-wise) to do on New Year’s in the Charleston area, so I wanted to offer something,” says Deaton, also noting the charitable component of the series.
In the last five years, the series has donated $63,000 to Charles Towne Landing for its zoo, which is home to native wildlife, most of them rescued, as well as efforts to help physically-challenged visitors.
Unlike the 5K series held in warmer months, the New Year’s race added a 10K last year and a pajama element this year.
“We’re adding the pj’s because it’s early in the morning and I want people to roll out of bed and be comfortable,” says Deaton.
She added that the race will offer coffee and hot chocolate before the race and a variety of soups, Hoppin’ John and cornbread afterward.
The lures seem to be working.
In 2014, the New Year’s run drew 106 finishers for a 5K-only event. Last year, it drew 176 for the 5K and 67 for the 10K. As of Wednesday, Deaton said more than 200 had registered for Sunday’s races, which start at 8:30 a.m.
Another element of the New Year’s race is repurposing the past: namely race T-shirts and awards from past running, swimming and triathlon events.
Also, all Race the Landing events also feature shorter, usually 1-mile, runs for children.
Fees for Sunday’s events range from $11 to $40.
Races on the run in 2016?
Every year, Rock Hill-based running archivist Cedric Jaggers compiles a list of the 20 largest races in South Carolina, which helps "running journalists" and others track trends in the Palmetto State.
The list for 2016 continues to parallel a national trend toward less participation in conventional, timed road races.
Twelve of the top 20 races showed drops in the numbers of finishers, some rather significantly, from 2015.
The two biggest races, the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K and the Turkey Day 5K, respectively saw drops of 546 (to 26,843 finishers) and 728 (to 6,814 finishers).
Remember, the Bridge Run’s drop was likely due to weather forecasts calling for lightning storms at the start of the race last April. That said, the drop comes after a 4,475 falloff in 2015 from 2014.
The biggest gainer among the state’s top 20 in 2016 was Columbia’s 14th annual Get to the Green 5K, with an increase of 560 finishers (for a total of 1,501 finishers).
Another notable from the 2016 list was what did not appear on it. The Komen Lowcountry Race for Cure fell out of the top 20 for the first time in probably a decade and drew less than 900 timed runners.
Bridge Run comeback year?
The Bridge Run is primed to reverse the trends of recent years as it celebrates it's 40th race on April 1, 2017.
Locals will be reminded of the approach of Bridge Run's milestone race starting Feb. 20.
The race and The Post and Courier are featuring promotions, giveways and special events every day for the 40 days leading up to this year's 10K.
Race Director Julian Smith said he expects registration and finisher numbers to be up this year because of the race's 40th.