By: Adam Lincoln, Community Reporter
Clermont - As Central Florida continues to become a destination for distance running and multi-sport events, and as races become more popular, athletes and locals reap the advantages of a healthy lifestyle, fitness, and the challenge of competition. Center to this community of athletes is Lake County, and with plans to build a multi-million dollar Olympic training center by 2025 is Clermont. Ten Olympians with ties to Lake County won Olympic medals in 2016, and athletes compete with the general public in races nearly every weekend to include 5K runs all the way to full triathlons. As the popularity of these events grows, they spill over to neighboring communities and racing series continue to gain popularity and draw large crowds in Polk County.
In Lakeland, the Lakeland Runners Club kicked off its 5K race series on June 8th, a three-race series that also includes a race in July and August. The Lakeland Runners Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 1974 and has continued to sponsor races from its inception, and thanks to websites like runsignup.com and race-find.com are guaranteed to draw crowds. However, many people can still be intimidated by these races, especially first-timers. Having participated in my first event just recently the Cool Sommer Morning Triathlon, Duathlon, and 5K run, I can tell you there is truly nothing to fear.
On June 1st, I raced in my first ever Duathlon as part of a three-race series this summer, a race that included a one-mile run, 11-mile bike ride, and a 5k. With two more to go this summer, signing up for a racing series is a perfect way to set a goal and see real results as you improve over the summer. These races draw people from every age group and fitness level and, at the sold-out 5K run on June 1st, I saw athletes running their races under 20 minutes all the way to walkers, and even people pushing strollers.
A 5K, at a relatively short distance of 3.1 miles, is a perfect distance for beginners to start.
Running is not only one of the most efficient exercises, at 800 calories burned per hour, but it’s also a perfect way to spend quality time with friends and family and to even meet new friends. Fellowship is at the heart of groups like the Lakeland Runners Club who states their mission statement as, “To promote running and fitness for runners of all ages and abilities in the community through fellowship, education and formal & informal running events.” Yes, doing a 5K is tough and it can be intimidating the first time you do it. But the health benefits are worth it and running with a local club could be a perfect way to get out of the house this summer.
About the Author: Adam Lincoln is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Combat Veteran and current journalism student. A born and raised New Englander, he enjoys discovering Florida and its warm weather.