You probably think the only exercise Flagpole folks get is signaling for another beer at the 40 Watt Club. Well, that, yes, but we’ve got high-flying trapeze artists, softball sluggers, runners, walkers, cyclists, baby-toters, dancers, yogists and dog-chasers. So, we’re not just posturing when we bring you the Flagpole Health & Fitness Issue. There’s a lot of good information in here for grown-ups, kids and pets about diet and exercise and even music to make it all go down smoothly. There’s a lot in here, too, about what it takes mentally to get our bodies into shape. Here’s hoping this fitness issue strikes a responsive chord with our readers, confirming what you already know or motivating you to get off your recliner and out of your car and use your body the way it was intended.
You will notice as you peruse this issue all the advertisements for fitness-related activities and services. It is natural in a community where sports and physical activity are so prevalent that businesses evolve to provide support and those businesses become an integral part of the sports scene, whether they’re selling bikes, shoes, sweats, physical therapy, exercise, yoga, balls or nutrition. We also happen to have a town where awareness of good eating underpins our collective desire to live healthier lives, and those ads show up here, too, of course.
The timing of this fitness issue is occasioned by the highly successful AthHalf Half Marathon, sponsored by AthFest Educates, the parent nonprofit behind the popular AthFest Music & Arts Festival that tunes up our town every summer. AthFest Educates has during recent years become a major financial contributor to music and arts education programs for Athens-Clarke County children, and a big chunk of the money is raised by this half-marathon, which takes off this Sunday morning, Oct. 19 at 7:30 a.m. downtown.
If you wonder why anybody would pay money for the privilege of running 21.0975 kilometers, you’re not alone. Fortunately for local young folks wanting to learn music, though, you’re not alone, either, if you’re signed up and ready to run. The AthHalf Half Marathon is the quintessence of Athens. It starts with a jaunt through our fabulous downtown, heads out Prince Avenue and takes a turn through Cobbham, our lovely intown neighborhood filled with race fans who’ll be out cheering you on. Then the course proceeds along historic Milledge Avenue, with its stately homes and faded glory, goes right through the middle of the Five Points shopping area, on through Memorial Park to Riverbend Road and back through the campus for the finale—a victory lap around the hallowed field at Sanford Stadium, the epicenter of the Bulldog Nation, and the post-race relief on the Tate Student Center’s west lawn.
But that’s not all. Spotted along the race course will be local bands playing the music that has made Athens famous and adding significantly to the richness of the experience for runners and spectators alike. (See the course and all the other race information at athhalf.com.)
Preceding the race, there’s a Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday, Oct. 18 from 12 p.m.–6 p.m. at the Classic Center downtown on Thomas Street. Admission to the Expo is free, and there will be lots of vendors with bargains on sports, fitness and nutrition items. Runners pick up their race packets at the Expo on Saturday, too, so if you see a lot of fit, determined-looking people jogging around, you may be looking at some of the next day’s winners.
By the way, to get that extra zing into your step before you hit the pavement Sunday morning, there’s a pre-race worship service at 6:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, a couple of blocks from the starting line. “Are you running with me, Jesus?”