While the idea of getting up early in the morning and running through forested terrain on dirt paths may seem like torture to some, it was the main event on Saturday morning at Westminster Park in Rock Hill.
Miles for Marines attracted 175 runners for its 5th annual 15K race.
Theresa McKenrick started Miles for Marines with her husband five years ago after her son joined the Marine Corps. One of the last tasks a Marine trainee completes is a 15k run.
To support him, McKenrick decided to run, too, and the event grew from there. It raises money for the Semper Fi Fund, which provides assistance to injured or ill members of the armed forces.
They rely almost 100 percent on grassroots-located events, McKenrick said.
Charlotte resident Beth OConnell came to Westminster Park to support her husband, Daniel, who served as a Marine. She and her two young children cheered him on as he came around the final bend.
Hes done this the last few years, she said. Its just a good event.
OConnell said the small size of the race makes it feel more personal than other events.
In addition to the competitive 5k and 15k races, Miles for Marines includes a 1-mile Run for a Marine for kids, led by two current Marines, Sgt. Charles Towery, from Rock Hill, and Staff Sgt. Alimar Ferrer, from Portland.
I tried to make it challenging for them, Towery said. But a lot of them kept up most of the time.
Both said the event was fun and good for the community.
These kids could be future Marines, Ferrer said.
Marianna Williamson, 6, of Rock Hill, said this was her second year doing the mile for kids. I liked the race today, she said. It wasnt hard.
Lori Taylor ran the 15k race for the fourth year in a row. She lives in Charlotte, but her family is from Rock Hill.
My brother was a Marine in Iraq, she said. We love coming out and supporting them.
McKenrick said about 25 percent of the racers are active-duty or former Marines and the highest percentage of participants are in the 35-to-50 age bracket.
Although we have competitive runners, the majority of our runners want to run our races because of who we support, she said.
Rachel Southmayd • 803-329-4072