Staff at Christ Community Health Services are gearing up for their 4th annual Till The Cows Come Home 5K, equipped with prized cowbell trophies for runners ranging from beginner to advanced to complete the trail run at Steed's Dairy Farm.
Proceeds from the annual race benefit CCHS and its work to provide health-care services for people in need in the community.
The race is the brainchild of Leadership Columbia County who established the race four years ago as a class project to benefit the local nonprofit.
"It is really neat to see how Leadership Columbia County started this four years ago as their class project and basically did the whole thing for us and then handed it off to us and it's grown each year," said Ron Skenes, Director of Communication and Development for CCHS. "It's turned into something that we can tie in really easily with the physical therapy services that we provide, because you've got the running and the activity."
Skenes said other partnerships have been forged over the past four years with the 5k, including providing experience in physical therapy for Augusta University students.
"Now that the physical therapy students have come to join with us and help us in terms of volunteering by providing some massages and just talk about physical therapy," Skenes said. "It's a great partnership and it feeds back into the physical therapy program that we have at Christ Community which is very closely tied with the physical therapy school program at Augusta University."
The race will be held Friday, April 21, and will include a challenging course with rolling hills for walkers and runners alike.
"You literally go through the woods, you go around the lake you go through the pastures, you go through the fields, so it's very different from running on pavement," Skenes said, adding that community interest in the race has grown the past four years.
With a goal to see 150 runners in this year's event, which is more than double last year, Skenes said as of last week, they had reached 120 early entries, with plenty more expected to help them reach their goal on the day of the event.
And as it continues to grow, Skenes said the race itself is becoming more professional.
"The first few years we did hand timing, last year we brought in the service who does the chip timing, so that took it a step forward in terms of the professionalism and just the overall experience," Skenes said.
Early registration is available until April 20 for a registration fee of $25 and includes a T-shirt, swag bag and post race snacks. Day-of registration begins at 5 p.m. for $30 and includes a swag bag and post-race snacks.
Volunteers are always welcome and sponsorship opportunities are also available for company teams to participate, with the option to set up a table or display at the race. Find out more information online at Facebook.com/TillTheCowsComeHome5k.
All proceeds from the annual 5K benefit the work CCHS does, according to Skenes, who said that its latest project includes renovations to the health-care providers' Widow's House and will be unveiled to the public sometime in May.
"It's just a great family-oriented event that in turn is going back to support what I think is a great cause to provide these services to folks in our community, neighbors in our community that don't have access to the care that they need," Skenes said.