For 55 years, David Graeflin, owner of the Athlete’s House just off campus, has been running in Nashville.
In the early years, he no doubt understood the title of Alan Sillitoe’s famed 1959 short story, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner,” but the sport is not so lonely anymore.
“Five years ago, you wouldn’t have seen nearly as many people running around Belmont’s and Vanderbilt’s campus,” he said.
Graeflin, whose business opened in 1973 as the first running store in the state, said he’s seen an influx of all types of new runners, especially “more girls than guys.”
It’s not just the runners that are increasing; the number of races is, too, with 21 scheduled this fall alone in Nashville.
Usually there are more races held during the fall than in the summer because of the Nashville heat, said Graeflin, who is no stranger to road races.
However, the cool weather is not the only reason for taking to the streets.
“The running community feels strongly about supporting worthy causes,” said Mary Schneider, organizer for the Rally for Recovery 5K and director of the Rutherford County Drug and DUI Court.
The Rally for Recovery 5K, will serve as the annual fundraiser for the Recovery Support Foundation and will help to educate people about addiction.
Because of the increase in runners, causes have taken to using road races as a way to spread their message. Some of those local races include The Naked Foot 5K to support efforts to achieve full literacy in Tennessee; Miles for Melanoma to raise awareness and funding to research and treat melanoma; and the Rock and Road 5K/Crazy Owl Marathon to preserve Edwin and Percy Warner parks.
“Non-profits have found that organizing races is a good way to raise money because Nashville is such a running community,” Scheider said.
The Rally for Recovery 5K will be held Sept. 29 at the Gateway Trail Reception Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Race time is at 7:30 a.m.
Upcoming local races include:
The Naked Foot 5K– Sept. 15, 9:00 a.m. Centennial Park, Nashville
Tunnel to Towers 5K– Sept. 15, 6:00 p.m. Metro Center Fountain Square, Nashville
Shelby Bottoms Boogie 5K & 15K/strong>- Sept. 29, 7:30 a.m., Shelby Bottoms Park, Nasvhille
2nd Annual Music City Miles for Melanoma– 8:30 a.m. McCabe Park Community Center, Nashville