Valdosta Daily Times

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July 5, 2013

The Valdosta 5K Celebrates Freedom

VALDOSTA —  The Eighth Annual Valdosta 5K was run early Thursday morning south along Patterson Street to the Talk 92.1 FM Radio Valdosta's studio perched atop the Firm Fitness Center in downtown Valdosta.

The Valdosta 5K, run each year on the Fourth of July, is a race that gives local runners a chance to honor veterans on the most Patriotic day of the year.

All of the proceeds to the 5K benefit the Lowndes Veterans Council.

“It’s such a great day,” Todd Smoot, race coordinator, said. “Making donations to vets, celebrating vets, what better way to celebrate in a military town. It’s tough to coordinate, but it’s all worth it. It’s a labor of love.”

Runners gathered at the registration table in the Winn-Dixie Marketplace at 6:45 in the morning, eating bananas to avoid cramps, drinking water, and stretching in preparation of the race.

Veterans took racing numbers between 1-100, active duty military wore numbers 101-200, and civilians wore numbers 201 and above.

At 7:15, the runners took off down Patterson with a police escort rerouting traffic behind them.

Less than 18 minutes and about 3.1 miles later, fifteen year-old Wright Calhoun of Americus was the first runner to cross the finish line of this year’s 5K.

Calhoun, a sophomore at Southland Academy, has been running for two years now, and taking the sport seriously for the last year and a half.

Calhoun, who runs a 5K about every two weeks, doesn’t want to give away any of his training techniques to potential racing rivals.

“(My training regiment) that’s a secret,” Calhoun said. “I can’t let anyone catch me, but I’ll tell you one thing, the more mileage the better.”

Mary Alice Smoot, 17, was the top overall female winner on the day.

“I have not trained for speed in awhile,” Mary Alice Smoot said. “I’m just trying to get ready for my last cross country season at Valwood.”

Smoot was a popular name on Thursday, as Alice Smoot, mother of Mary Alice, was the Female Masters winner.

The first 25 male and female racers to finish received their award in the finish chute. $50 cash awards will be mailed to the Top Overall, Master and Veteran Male and Female.

The Valdosta 5K has managed to raise between $18,000-19,000 for local veterans in the last eight years.

Visit www.runningintheusa.com to views dates and register for future races.

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