The inspiration for Saturday morning’s Couch to 5K run was Karen Decker. And, although Decker is suffering from multiple sclerosis, she didn’t let the disease get in the way of her competing in the Run, Walk or Roll as she successfully negotiated the two full laps around the Virginia Acres track in her wheelchair at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.
The race’s director, Lori Comshaw, is Decker’s personal trainer. Saturday’s contest was Decker’s third race in 2012, having previously competed in two 5K challenges.
“Before I started working with Lori, I wasn’t active at all,” said Decker. “I couldn’t even get off the couch by myself, and training with Lori and staying active has surely helped me. I can’t imagine doing without it.”
There were 120 preregistered runners competing in five different age groups, and the event attracted nationwide participation for the 3.1-mile run. The race served as a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the Greenville Hospital System Neurosciences department. Participants ranged in age from 11 to 88.
“We needed a finishing race for the Couch to 5K program and partnered with Fleet Feet, and there wasn’t a race scheduled at this time,” said Comshaw. “So, we created this race for our Couch to 5K participants and the community.”
Aiken resident Nicole Maitland placed eighth overall in the race and was the top female finisher.
“Honestly, the reason I participated was because of my friend Barbara Jackson,” said Maitland. “She was running it, so she made me come out. It’s been a while since I ran, but I had a really good playlist. I had the faster songs at the end.”
Joerg Klisch found out about the event on a website, registered for the race and placed fourth overall. The athlete found weather conditions ideal for the race and came into the contest well-prepared.
“I wore runner’s shoes,” said Klisch. “I switched to this lighter type of shoe because I had problems with my Achilles. It actually helped me to reduce the length of my stride. I didn’t land as hard as I did before on the heel.”
Fleet Feet on Furys Ferry Road in Augusta partnered with the Couch to 5K program to conduct the Run, Walk or Roll, and also had a table at the event. Prospective customers had an opportunity to ask questions about neutral cushion shoes or those running shoes that provide superior support.
“We’re here helping people find the right shoes and helping with proper gait analysis,” said Dylan Miller of Fleet Feet, who showcased several health and nutrition products.
Dr. Mary Hughes, Karen Decker’s doctor from the Greenville Systems Hospital Neurosciences Department, attended the event.
Decker’s story continues to inspire others, and it provided a number of the participants with the extra motivation they needed for finishing the race.
“Never give up trying,” said Decker.