CINCINNATI -- The Pig. The Heart Mini. The Color Run. The Undy Run.
Name a cause -- or invent one -- and Cincinnatians are running for it.
Seemingly every weekend, and often more than once per weekend during peak seasons, there is some kind of run or walk, most associated with a charity. (If you doubt it, take a look at the events posted through CincinnatiUSA.com, the website of the Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau.)
Why are they so popular?
First, a run/walk is something nearly everyone can do, especially a 5K, which is 3.1 miles. Second, it gives people a sense of purpose with their charitable donations. Third, from the perspective of nonprofits, 5Ks work.
"In 2008, 5K runs were gaining steam in terms of success at raising funds and awareness for nonprofits," said Gabrielle Nadel of the Colon Cancer Alliance. They are the beneficiary of the Undy Run/Walk, which will take place Oct. 1 at Lunken Airport.
"Therefore, we decided to take part in the success and added a twist of our own by giving participants boxer shorts instead of race-day T-shirts to create a memorable experience and raise awareness and funds for the Colon Cancer Alliance. This event has grown over the years and expanded to 26 cities across the country.
"The Undy Run/Walk has been the Colon Cancer Alliance’s flagship fundraising event since 2008," said Nadel. "The merger of the Colon Cancer Alliance and the Chris4Life Foundation in January 2016 has helped expand the special events portfolio to include poker tournaments, galas and auctions."
This weekend is the local running of the Color Run Tropicolor World Tour 5K, in which participants are blasted with paint during the run. This year's Cincinnati event benefits the Tri-State Bleeding Disorder Foundation.
The Color Run selects a hero each year to be the face of the event. This year that’s Jackson Loving, an 8-year-old who was diagnosed with hemophilia A at birth. His mother, Jennifer Loving, is a longtime volunteer for the Tri-State Bleeding Disorder Foundation. She appreciates the support and exposure the Color Run provides.
"We are thrilled that our son Jackson was chosen as the Color Run Hero this year," said Loving. "For our family, it is hereditary. My maternal grandfather passed away in his mid-30s due to complications, as did both my first cousins.
"Jackson is an active 8-year-old -- our little Energizer Bunny. He loves sports. If he isn't playing flag football, basketball or swimming, then he is spouting stats as if he were a walking ESPN sports announcer."
"Years ago," she said, "hemophiliacs would treat on demand, a small percentage still do, but research has shown that treating proactively actually shows better results in joint and mobility throughout their life span.
"We enjoy talking about hemophilia in our community and also in Washington, D.C., to our state and national lawmakers. Education is key to keeping our children and adults living with hemophilia healthy and happy."
For Ric Alcorn, who recently ran the Bubble Run and the Heart Mini Marathon, the runs are fun, and something he and girlfriend, Christine Henry, can train for and participate in together.
"When we first starting doing it, the 5K was a challenge, getting to that level," said Alcorn. "We like to do it because it gives us a reason to run -- and it's different than always running around the block. It gives you a deadline, something to train for."
Alcorn and Henry participated in the Heart Mini this spring on a team from Cincinnati Bell, where Alcorn works.
"We like the charity aspect," Alcorn said. "Plus, it’s a lot more fun to do with other people or a group of people. I used to hate it; now I really enjoy running. We’re getting ready to sign up for the Bearcats Dash in October."
So ultimately, there isn't a single reason to do a 5K run/walk. There are plenty to pick from.