For most people, spring is a time of renewal. After a long winter, it's time to go outside and get back in shape.
But the Catonsville Rotary Club, the Community College of Baltimore County and Baltimore's Boys of Summer organization are bucking that trend this fall.
Following a one-year hiatus, the organizations have joined forces to sponsor the 2012 Catonsville Fall into Fitness.
This year's event, which features 5k and 10k runs and a 5k fun walk, will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, on the CCBC Catonsville campus, 801 South Rolling Road. In addition to the running and walking events, a one-hour Zumbathon has been added to the schedule.
Registration begins at 7 a.m. for the 8 a.m. races. The Zumbathon will take place from 8:15- 9:15 a.m.
"This event helps us strengthen our connections with the community," said Hope Davis, CCBC's director of media relations.
Both running and walking events will follow the same route around the campus and into the surrounding Catonsville community. The first male and female overall finishers receive a cash prize, and awards are also presented for first, second and third place in all events.
Davis stressed that athletes of all levels are welcome to participate.
"We've had people who are strong runners that are preparing for a bigger event," she said. "But we welcome casual runners and walkers that just want to do it for exercise. We've had moms with their strollers who walk with their babies and their kids."
Matt Gitterman, the cross-country coach at the nearby University of Maryland, Baltimore County, subscribes to the theory that participants should walk before they run.
"I see a lot more people in their late 30s through early 50s running for the first time," Gitterman said. "My advice is to start off walking, then gradually add in 30-second bursts of running and build from there. Runners should first work to make their joints stronger, and then the conditioning comes in.
"If it's your first time out, keep the goals real simple," he said. "Don't set time goals right away, but just try to finish the race. Eventually, runners will go from 'I just want to finish' to 'I can run it two or three minutes faster'."
"There is certainly a competitive segment to it," said CCBC Athletic Director Farrell, a lifelong Catonsville resident who will be joined in the 10k race by his siblings, Maureen Kogut and Patrick Farrell. "We have some elite runners who come in strictly to win the race. It's a good training opportunity for the Baltimore Marathon, which is just two weeks later.
"But for our family, it's a great opportunity and an easy and fun way for us to do something together," he said. "I'm a general fitness guy, not a competitive runner. My brother and I are just trying to keep up with our sister, who runs about 8-10 of these a year."
Farrell keeps a simple training regimen. Approximately six weeks before the event, he begins running between four and six miles several times a week.
"I gradually stretch it out," he said. "I've run the 10k between 46 and 49 minutes both times (in 2009 and 2010)."
More than health benefits
Fall into Fitness is a fundraiser for the CCBC Scholarship Fund, the CCBC Hilton Mansion Restoration Project, the Wounded Warriors Project, and local charities supported by the Catonsville Rotary Club.
"We hope to get close to 1,000 runners and raise $25,000," said Cal Oren, past president of the Catonsville Rotary and director of Fall into Fitness.
CCBC-Catonsville hosted the Fall into Fitness event in 2009 and 2010 but the race had to be canceled in 2011. The local Rotary Club was down to just eight members, and Oren thought the group didn't have enough manpower to pull off the event. But as membership rose to 17, Oren realized that the race could happen again.
"Almost everyone in our organization will be there," Oren said. "We'll handle registration, help time the races, and have free food for all of the runners.
"We've already made financial commitments to the Wounded Warriors and the Hilton Mansion Restoration, but money also goes into our foundation to fund other projects," said Oren, "We've been donating the dictionaries to up to 19 area schools for the past six or seven years. We want to make sure that every third-grader has their own personal dictionary. We are committed to helping with student literacy."
The first $1,600 of CCBC's portion of the race proceeds will go to the school's General Scholarship Fund. Proceeds beyond that mark will go to the Hilton Mansion Restoration Project and the school's Athletic Scholarship Fund.
Baltimore's Boys of Summer organization is involved in the race for the first time. The nonprofit supports and promotes amateur and professional baseball and fast-pitch softball in the area. It plans to donate its proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project and fallen heroes from police and fire departments, the armed forces, and state troopers. The group has already donated $5,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project.
For information about the event or to register, go to http://www.catonsvillerun.org.
Registration for adults is $30 in advance and $35 the day of the event. For ages 14 and under, registration is $15 in advance and $18 on race day. Registration for CCBC students is $20. "Sleep walkers" who choose not to actively participate can still make a contribution of $30.