Program will take people from couch to 5K

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 March 2016 at 12:00 am

Goal: be ready for Strawberry Festival race in June

Photo by Tom Rivers – Some of the leaders of the “Run for God” program include, front row, from left: Tom Smith, Sheila Lemcke and Brian Krieger. Other participants in back include Becki Keegan, Joe McPhatter, John Given and his son Zeke Given.

ALBION – In 2012, the Albion Free Methodist Church started a “Run for God” program that takes people from the couch to running a 5-kilometer race in 12 weeks.

Organizers of the first Run for God weren’t sure how many would take up the challenge, starting in cold March weather and concluding with the 5K race in June during the Albion Strawberry Festival. There was a strong response to “Run for God” with 40 people finishing the first race.

Altogether, 274 people have participated in Run for God (including a half marathon training program) in the first four years. A new Run for God starts tomorrow (Saturday) at 8:30 a.m. at the Free Methodist Church, corner of East State and Platt streets.

The group meets for a devotional or spiritual lesson, and then begins the journey to a 5K, alternating with short jogs and walks. The group will gradually increase the running times during the following weeks.

Tom Smith and Sheila Lemcke are leading the program again this year. Smith, the worship leader at the church, said he enjoys the camaraderie among the runners.
The participants go at different paces. Run for God is open to new and more experienced runners, and people can join at any time during the 12 weeks.

“There is no judgment,” Lemcke said. “Everyone is accepted at any level.”

There is no cost to be in the program, unless participants want to buy a T-shirt or a Run for God book. For more on Run for God, click here.

The program is now sponsored by the Free Methodist Church and the Albion Running Club. The late Wayne Burlison was a founder of the Running Club and pushed to start the Run for God program.

Burlison was 36 when he died from cancer nearly two years ago on March 26, 2014.

The Running Club is planning the second annual “Run for Wayne” in honor of Burlison on April 16 at the Ronald L. Sodoma Elementary School, where Burlison was a music teacher.

The race starts at 12:01 p.m. The course is 3.17 miles. That distance was chosen to honor Burlison’s 3-month, 17-day fight with stage 4 colon cancer.

Burlison was a proponent of healthy living in the community. Through diet and exercise, he lost more than 150 pounds and ran a marathon and several half marathons.

For more information on “Run for Wayne,” click here.