by Laura Camper
At 8 a.m. Saturday, while many people were still sleeping or enjoying their breakfast, nearly 150 people made their way to the McClellan Medical Mall to run the Half Naked Half Marathon.
On a chilly but sunny morning the turnout was just about average for the race, said Nancy Grace, a volunteer helping at the event.
Just about 9 a.m., as runners reached the end of the first 6.5-mile loop of the course and made their way to a table bearing water, Gatorade and orange slices, they were greeted with encouragement by the members of the Anniston Runners Club.
Some of the runners called it quits at this juncture - the 10K point when one measures the course in meters. Others ran on to repeat the loop and go one tenth of a mile farther to achieve the correct half-marathon distance. Tantalizingly, the finish line was near Café McClellan, where runners encountered the scents of bacon, eggs and biscuits - their reward for running the race.
That"�s why she came, joked Leigh Marsh, as she ate her breakfast after running the 10K. Marsh, from Pell City, has been a member of the club since 2007. She joined to meet people, she said.
"�I"�m a social runner,' Marsh said. "�I"�m not a fast runner.'
She came to run with all her friends, Marsh said.
Events benefit community
The half marathon is one of five running events the Anniston Runners Club organizes each year. It used to be a training run and annual renewal breakfast for members, said Dennis Dunn, a past president of the club who has been a member since 1999. Around eight years ago, the event became more organized and is now a USA Track and Field-certified half marathon and breakfast fundraiser for the club, he said.
The club donates money earned at its running events to several organizations around town. Last year, it donated a total of $17,000 to United Cerebral Palsy, Arc of Calhoun and Cleburne County, Anniston High School, Golden Springs Baptist Church and the YMCA, Dunn said.
When Dunn joined the Anniston Runners Club it had about 50 members, he said. This year, 700 people have already renewed their membership for 2013, he said as he sorted through a spreadsheet of names. Some 1,100 names are listed on the spreadsheet, he said.
Read more: Anniston Star - Half marathon reflects growth of Anniston Runners Club