February 20, 2013

St. Patrick’s road race to raise money for Special Olympics

Charles Oliver

— Twenty-six years ago, a race scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day in Chattanooga got canceled at the last moment. That started a Dalton tradition.

“Some of the runners in the Dalton area decided they’d just do a quick race here. It was mostly (Carpet Capital Running Club) members, and they called it the first and maybe only St. Patrick’s Day road race,” said club member David Sanders. “They only planned to do it that year.”

In fact, it turned out to be so popular they’ve done it every year since.

“That’s why we are calling this year’s race the 26th anniversary race,” said Sanders, who has organized the race for the past five years.

“At the time (he took it over), it was a pretty small race, maybe 80 participants. But it has grown. Last year, we had in the 270s,” he said.

Last year, the club decided to turn the race into a fundraiser for the local Special Olympics program.

“We raised close to $2,000,” said Lisa Hughey, Special Olympics coordinator for the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department.

“We used it to buy medals for our local events. We also use it to pay registration fees for our local athletes to go to the state games, to buy uniforms, to buy meals. We pay for everything when out athletes go to the state games,” she said.

This year the race will be on March 14 beginning at 6:30 p.m. and will again be a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. It starts at ChristChurch Presbyterian on Tibbs Road. The race is two miles over some gently rolling hills, and Sanders says you don’t need to be a serious runner to take part.

“We have a lot of people just walk it. That’s perfectly OK. If they want to come out and support the Special Olympics, we are glad to have them,” he said. “We’ll have pizza and awards after the race is over.”

To register for the race, go to www.carpetcapitalrunningclub.com or www.active.com. Registration is $15 until March 7, and $20 after. Registration is open until race day, March 14.