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Downtown Dash 5K organizers look to tap runners' enthusiasm, show off group for girls

April 5th, 2014 8:25 am by Max Hrenda

Downtown Dash 5K organizers look to tap runners' enthusiasm, show off group for girls

Chris Layne with Total Sports US during Downtown Dash Press Conference at Sparks Plaza.(Tony Duncan/Johnson City Press)

As summer draws near, local runners will be offered a chance to not only participate in something they love, but also to help draw attention to a local group with a similar passion.

On Friday at Spark Plaza, representatives from Total Sports Management, Girls on the Run and Families for a Healthier Eastman announced the plans for the upcoming Downtown Dash 5K.

The event is scheduled to take place at 8:55 a.m. May 3. Participants will gather at South Side Elementary School, 1011 Southwest Ave., and will proceed down a 5-kilometer track that will lead them down West State of Franklin Road to Legion Street, then onto East and West Maple streets back to the school. A cash prize will be awarded to the top three male and female runners.

According to Total Sports Managing Director Chris Layne, rather than offering runners another chance to participate in a 5K, with the Downtown Dash, he hoped others could benefit from those runners’ enthusiasm. So, Layne said the Downtown Dash was designed to run in conjunction with a Girls on the Run event to draw attention to their cause.

“The idea was to launch a second race for recreational runners, totally separate from the girls’ run,” Layne said. “It would be there to support the girls’ race both monetarily and also from a festivity standpoint.”

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that focuses on healthy living for pre-teen girls through running. While running serves as a benefit to physical health, according to Ani Boyd, co-director of the Northeast Tennessee chapter of the organization, the program has evolved to go beyond physical health.

“It’s much more than a running program now,” Boyd said. “Really it’s about character development. We use running as our tool to teach girls to figure out who they are, be true to themselves, and to go into adolescence and beyond with self-confidence and an assurance in themselves that they are perfect just the way they are.”

Rather than combine races and run the risk of impeding on what has become special to the girls, Layne said the Downtown Dash could be an addition to an already popular event.

“If you’ve been to a Girls on the Run race ... we’ve got an environment from anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 girls and their families,” Layne said. “This is just going to add to the festivities.”

During the announcement, Jose Castillo, owner of Spark Plaza — which also celebrated its fifth year in business during the announcement — said he was looking forward to the potential benefits that could be reaped from the event.

“One of the things we love to do as an organization and space in downtown Johnson City is to help events in downtown Johnson City happen,” Castillo said. “We have a lot of great events here, but we’re really excited to have Chris Layne, Total Sports and Girls on the Run all together for the J.C. Downtown Dash.

“It’s awesome to have things like this happen in downtown Johnson City.”

The event’s pre-registration period will last until April 19 at a cost of $20. During regular registration, which will last until May 1, the cost will move to $25. All proceeds from the race will go to Girls on the Run.

Interested parties can register online at raceplanner.com/register/Index/JC-Downtown-Dash. For more information, call Total Sports Management at 282-3888.

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