Lake Norman & Mooresville

Lace up for Feb. 18 5K, fun run

After Valentine's Day has come and gone, consider boosting your spirits again by participating in the Valentine's Day 5K and Fun Run.

"This is a great opportunity for people to come out and have fun, spend time with their family and run with their kids," said Melvin Morrison, East Lincoln High School cross country and track coach and Valentine's Day 5K director.

East Lincoln High School and Cowan's Ford Country Club will host the event on Feb. 18, rain or shine. The 5K event will began at 9:30 a.m. with the fun run following at 10:15 a.m. The 5K course will start near the clubhouse, at 761 Club Drive, Denver, and go through the neighborhood, overlooking the golf course and tennis courts. The fun run will be a one-mile run on the banks of Lake Norman.

Individuals can participate for $25 per person or save a few bucks, by enlisting their significant other to race too. Couples pay $45. The fee for the fun run is $10 per person with each participant getting a ribbon. Trophies and medals for first- and second-place honors will be awarded in the individual and couple divisions.

New to the event this year is a high school division. High school teams will compete against each other for the Valentine 5K High School Cup. Some teams will be made up of cross country and track runners, while other teams will just be people from a particular school interested in participating in the event. Teams must have three to five members to compete in this division.

"I am always thinking of trying unique things and getting more involvement from the community in the county," said Morrison, 50, of Denver.

Participants will receive lots of door prizes, including free monthlong memberships to various gyms, restaurant gift certificates and items from local stores. All female participants get a special treat - flowers when they cross the finish line.

Morrison said the event has "really taken off" since it started three years ago. The first year, the event drew 180 participants, and last year, it more than doubled to 300 participants, he said.

"Everybody at the race has a great time and says it's one of the best races they've ever been to," said Morrison. "That's why our numbers have increased so much."

Besides drawing in the crowds, the event has also raised more than $3,000 since it began. In the past, the money has been used to purchase school supplies, including uniforms at East Lincoln High. But this year, the money will go to Lincoln County families that have fallen on hard times.

"We wanted to give back to the community a little bit more," said Morrison. "Over the last year, I know there are a lot more people being laid off. The unemployment rate has really gone up and I feel like this is something we need to do."