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By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

In a grassroots effort to combat obesity and get recession-weary Americans moving, the first National Running Day has been organized for Wednesday, June 3, an unprecedented collaboration between some of America's top running organizations.

"Everyone can run," said New York Road Runners president and CEO Mary Wittenberg whose not-for-profit organization is one of the key backers of the event.  "That's the message of this day."

Using social networking and the internet, organizers are encouraging Americans of all ages and fitness levels to get out and run on June 3, by hosting a variety of National Running Day activities, including professional athlete appearances, free running events, group runs, and clinics.  The event has an official website, runningday.org, a Facebook presence, and the support of some of America's top running organizations, including USA Track & Field.

"This is a day to celebrate the most universal of all sports," commented USA Track & Field CEO Doug Logan, a former soccer executive who is a regular runner.  "By taking National Running Day into the virtual realm of social networking, we're doing even more to expand that universe.  You might be running toward a goal, running with a purpose, or even just running away from your problems.  Any reason is a good reason to run, especially on National Running Day."

Partners in National Running Day include the Atlanta Track Club, organizers of the Peachtree Road Race; the Boston Athletic Association, organizers of the Boston Marathon; Competitor Group, organizers of the Rock 'N' Roll marathon series and other road racing events; Running USA, the running industry trade association; USA Track & Field; and Twin Cities Marathon, Inc., amongst others (see the full list of partners at this link: http://www.runningday.org/about/partners.asp).

Running is already extremely popular in the United States and, despite the recession, participation in organized races is growing solidly.  There were nearly 8.9 million road race finishers in the USA in 2007, according to Running USA, a total which doesn't reflect people who only run for fun and fitness and don't enter races, and the millions of students who run cross country and track in high school and college who are not yet road racing.  Entry and finisher totals for road races in the United States so far this year have shown healthy growth, a testament to running's value even in tough economic times.

"As an industry, we know first-hand how great running is," added Wittenberg, who was an U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier in 1988 and now directs the ING New York City Marathon.  "Millions of Americans have discovered that running is an easy way to feel better, look better, and live better."




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