The Lion’s Chase 5K saw a record turnout this year, with over 650 participants signing up in hopes of bringing home the obstacle race’s coveted championship sword.
“This was our fifth year,” said director Jeff Sparks. “We started with around 225-250 runners, and we have seen exponential growth every year. What I attribute that to is that every year more and more people have a positive experience, and they want to come back with a friend. When you have a good time, it’s more likely that you’re going to go out and spread the word.”
“We take a lot of pride in that,” Sparks continued. “And we also just enjoy promoting fitness. In general, I think the Lion’s Chase is something that motivates people to get off the couch and start training.”
In addition to promoting fitness, Sparks and his staff also use this event to help raise much-needed funds for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society each year.
In the end, it was first-time competitor David Hays (London) who was able to take the top spot at this year’s race with a time of 33:11.
“So many of my friends were doing it,” said Hays when asked what led him to sign up for the race this year. “Everybody talks about it, so it’s really become hard to miss.”
Hays may be new to the Lion’s Chase, but he came in with a long list of prior race victories to his credit. When asked how this course stacks up to others, he said, “This race was heavy on the obstacles. Some of them were really tough. It’s a lot like a trail run at first, but at the end it’s one obstacle after another. It almost got me at the end.”
When asked if he would return next year to defend his crown, Hays said, “I’ll definitely be back. I’m kind of mad at myself for not doing it all the other years.”
Overall top performer among female competitors was Jessica Proffitt, who crossed the finish line at 44:53.
Next year’s race has already been scheduled for September 9. More info can be found at lionschase.com.
To see more from this year’s Lion’s Chase, pick up the September 14 edition of the News Journal!