September 1, 2013 12:45:52 AM
A year ago, Abby Solomon Malmstrom wanted to help make the Tennessee Williams "Streetcar Run" even bigger.
Malmstrom pursued that goal with the stamina of a runner and the passion of a coach who wanted to espouse the benefits of running as part of a healthy lifestyle.
This year, Malmstrom is taking a similar approach in her effort to get the word out about the third annual Streetcar Run, which is set for 8 a.m. Saturday at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center parking lot at 300 Main St. in downtown Columbus.
"We had some great feedback from all sorts of folks about last year's race," Malmstrom said. "The feedback wasn't just about the course, but they felt they succeeded and that they felt that accomplishment of finishing a race. My goal as a running coach is to help people find that success no matter how fast or slow they go and enjoy it and meet other people."
Malmstrom hopes to do that this year by encouraging walkers to participate in the 5-Kilometer race, which will trace the route of the streetcar tracks that once wove through the city. Malmstrom is working with the Tennessee Williams Tribute Foundation and the Golden Triangle Running and Cycling Club to increase awareness of the race and to promote a healthy lifestyle. In 2012, the number of participants in the race went from 30-40 to 175. Malmstrom hopes to have 175-200 competitors Saturday.
"This year we have gotten a lot more support from the community through the Tennessee Williams Tribute Foundation," Malmstrom said. "We are trying to get as many registered as possible."
By casting a wider net to walkers, Malmstrom hopes to show people that running isn't the only way people can stay in shape.
Keith Gaskin, who is a member of the Tennessee Williams Tribute Foundation, said everyone is working with the goal to make the race one of the best of its distance in the region.
"Abby is well experienced in this area and has been very supportive of what we're trying to do and also exposing some folks to the works of Tennessee Williams who didn't know it," Gaskin said. "It is very helpful for the Tribute to have this, too. It brings more people to town to enjoy the week we have."
The race is just one piece of a week's worth of activities that are a part of the 12th annual Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes. The week is held in recognition of the poet, author, and playwright Williams, who was born in Columbus.
This is the second year the Tennessee Williams Tribute Foundation has worked as a partner to help promote the 5-K. Gaskin said it is a "win-win situation" for the Foundation and the Golden Triangle Running and Cycling Club, which also is looking to grow its membership. Gaskin, who has twice completed the New York City Marathon and in the Marine Corps Marathon, will work as a volunteer. He served in that capacity in the Rock n' Roll half marathon in July in Chicago. He also volunteered for the Possum Town Triathlon last month in Columbus.
"We have been very aggressive using social media to get the word out about the 5-K," Gaskin said. "There were a lot of folks who went online and were commenting about how well the Possum Town Triathlon was, and we encourage them to join us at the 5-K. We're trying to piggy back off their success and trying to get some of the same people who participated in that. Running is a sport that is still on the rise in terms of popularity. For the Tennessee Williams Tribute Foundation, it is another great event for Columbus and the whole city, and an event to promote a healthy lifestyle."
Malmstrom agrees, even though she, too, won't be a participant who has to climb the big hill at the end of the race. However, Malmstrom has run the course many times and she knows it is a fun and challenging course. She hopes the event is one way participants can get exposed to running and, possibly, to even bigger distances. In fact, Malmstrom is offering running course as part of her business, Live for It All.com, which is based in Columbus. She will start another 5 Weeks to 5-K running course in October for anyone interested in building a training regimen. She also will work with competitors who are interested in training to compete in the New Orleans half-marathon and full marathon on Feb. 2, 2014.
Prizes will be given to the top three men's and women's finishers. All participants will receive a T-shirt and a medal. Competitors also will have an opportunity to participate in free yoga at Bliss Yoga in downtown Columbus later that day. Runners/walkers will be able to enjoy a free session of yoga if they bring their race bib to Bliss Yoga.
Those interested in competing in the Streetcar Run can register at beta.active.com or go to the Golden Triangle Running and Cycling Club's website -- runcyclegtr.org. The registration cost is $20 for non-GTRCC members. The cost is $25 if participants want to run and to join the GTRCC. For GTRCC members, the cost to register is $15.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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