Five races in three places: Fall is here

The third annual Francis Marion Dirt Dash will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Like clockwork, the fall running season bursts wide open in the Lowcountry following Labor Day.

Saturday features three race events, one of which has three races, and all for special causes.

The third annual Francis Marion Dirt Dash, which has become the largest "trail" run (it's on Forest Service dirt roads) in the tri-county area, will be at 7 a.m. Saturday in Awendaw and is expected to draw at least 325 people, according to race director Chad Haffa.

To give people an option in addition to the Dirt Dash's half-marathon and 5K this year, Haffa added a 12K (7.5 miles) to the event.

The Dirt Dash is part of the Trail Runner Trophy Series, a national points-based trail running contest, and received a short mention in Runner's World earlier this year.

As a result, Haffa said, the event is drawing significantly more out-of-state participation. So far, it has drawn registrants from 16 states, including California and Montana. Like many runs, however, some register because they plan to be visiting anyway.

Registration cost $55 for the half, $35 for the 12K and $25 for the 5K, not including online registration fees.

A portion of the proceeds from the half supports the Mount Pleasant Fire Department's Wildland Firefighting Program, while portions from the 12K event and 5K benefit research at the Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina and for fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, respectively.

In-person registration and packet pickup will be noon-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at TrySports in Mount Pleasant.

There will be no race-day registration.

More information is available at www.eagle-endurance.com.

On the other side of town, the Special Olympics Annual Run, or SOAR, is a 5K at 8 a.m. starting at the Folly Beach Pier.

Benefiting the Special Olympics of the Lowcountry, the event is $30 for runners over age 12, $20 for those 11 and under.

Online registration closes today, but in-person registration will available at packet pickup, which will be 4-8 p.m. today and Friday at TrySports in Mount Pleasant and 7-7:30 a.m. at the pier.

Check out active.com for more info.

Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of one of the worst days in America's history, but one local run seeks not only to remember it but make something positive of it.

The 9/11 Heroes Run is a national effort, billed as a "5K for the 9K who have lost their lives since 9/11."

Put on by the Travis Manion Foundation, the 5K aims to raise money not only for the foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans and their families, but for locals who serve the community.

Half of the proceeds from Charleston's Heroes Run, set for 8 a.m. Saturday at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, will go to the Charleston Fire Department, Gifting Warriors, Charleston 9 Memorial Fund and Distressed Officers Fund, according to an organizer, Theresa Faircloth.

The fee is $25 online or $30 on race day. Go to 911heroesrun.com for more information.

In addition to the run, a special ceremony honoring those who responded and died will be held Sunday at Patriots Point.

And finally, for people who aren't quite ready to let go of summer, Earth & Air store in Mount Pleasant is coordinating Charleston's Best of Summer party to benefit the South Carolina Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The party on Saturday is free but features the opportunity to buy $5 tickets for a chance to win donated outdoor stuff such as surfboards, paddleboards, GoPro cameras and more.