Kingston Springs Mayor Tony Gross and the South Cheatham Striders kicked off the new year with a community run of about 150 participants on New Year’s Day.
“I started a little group called the South Cheatham Striders about a year and a half ago,” Gross said. “We had an event called the First Day 5k on New Year’s Day. It was just to get people out and moving. You could walk or run, and I bought a couple gift cards that I gave away in a drawing at the end. It was not a race. We had around a hundred people. I honestly had no idea that many people would show up. I was thinking 25-30 tops.”
Kingston Springs resident Steve Cooper, 68, said he was surprised by the turnout because only four people showed up last year.
“It was a little cool when we started out, but once we all got running and walking, we all warmed up,” Cooper said. “The weather was perfect which was nice for the first day of the year. Good way to start a new year on a walk-run with friends. The age range was like from eight years old to 75. There were a lot of people with their dogs.”
The route for the First Day 5k started at Burns Park and then took the sidewalks from Main Street to Kingston Springs Elementary school and then back to Burns Park.
Multiple Facebook postings likely increased this year’s event participation.
“Now we want to try and keep that going,” Gross said. “And we’re planning future similar activities to keep getting people out moving so we can start addressing, in a positive way, some of the health and fitness issues that plague our communities.”
Gross said that his wife, Joy, came up with the idea to include a drawing for a prize.
“So, I bought a couple of gift cards to our new local store, Nourish Market. The idea being that the winners would get a prize that would allow them to get some healthy foods to start the year,” Gross said.
Kingston Springs resident Amanda Erickson, 29, was one of this year’s participants.
“I’ve always been a runner for the last 10 years or so,” Erickson said. “I’d run together a lot with my neighbor, Karen, in the morning. She knew Jack Arnold, one of the members of the Nashville Striders. I’ve talked to her for years to get something going on in Kingston Springs. When I met Jack, I found out that South Cheatham had a striders group.”
Erickson had a baby in September 2018 which prompted a desire to get back in shape.
“I needed a good fitness routine,” she said. “I started doing Wednesday morning runs in late spring. I’d push the stroller for five to six-mile runs.”
Erickson said she understands the benefits that physical activity has on cultivating a healthy lifestyle. She has a master’s degree in sports nutrition and a background as a dietician.
“Just a little bit of physical activity can do a lot for you in multiple ways such as stress relief, weight loss,” she said. “Getting together with people to enjoy an activity boosts morale and makes you feel happier.”
Erickson said that she’s looking forward to seeing more participation from people of all fitness levels.
“Some will be afraid at first, but you can only go up from where you are,” she said. “If you have an opportunity to get out there in your community with people who will support you from step one to reach goals, that is a great place to be. There’s no requirement for your plans or what you’ve done in the past. Just get out there, get with friends, make new friends and be a part of this community resource for us.”
Gross said that the next 5K run will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m.
“We are calling it the Quitter’s Day 5k,” he said. “I recently read that data shows most people will give up on their new year fitness goals on January 19th, so we are going to go out and defy the odds together by doing another walk/run.”
Gross said that the response of people who want to participate has been very good.
“The mix of people for the First Day 5k was everyone from small children to seniors,” he said. “The kids were probably motivated by their parents to get out, but most of the adults just wanted to start doing something positive for themselves and their health.”
Looking back on the First Day 5K, Gross still gets a “runner’s high.”
“There were some sets of people in the form of entire families and couples that participated,” he said. “I was pleased by everything. It was beautiful day with a beautiful community coming together. I was amazed to see how many people came out and that some came from other communities to be part of ours. I want to see the South Cheatham Striders become a force for good in our community. Running and walking is a simple act most all of us do in some capacity every day, but it has the ability to transform us. It improves our health and being outside increases our happiness.”
Cooper said he wants to make time for face-to-face connections by walking.
“It’s fun to have a community walk instead of just walking by yourself,” he said. “You get see others, share, and catch up on what you’re doing.”
“Physical activity is a big part of being a happy, healthy person,” she said. “People encouraging others is a great asset for this community.”
SOUTH CHEATHAM STRIDERS
The next 5k run will take place on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. The group has a weekly run every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. that starts at the Kingston Springs town parking lot. There are also some 5 a.m. runs scheduled. For information about the South Cheatham Striders, go to www.strava.com. or become a member of the group’s Facebook page.