Oldham Grand Slam a great experience

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By Tracy Harris

People run for different reasons: to lose weight, to relieve stress, to compete. Last month, some 36,000 runners ran for all those reasons, plus one: to show America’s oldest marathon could not be stopped by an act of terrorism.

The courage of those 264 people who were injured, many of them losing their own ability to walk or run, not to mention the courage of those who died, certainly added to the inspiration each Boston Marathon runner felt this year.

Even with this year’s large field, not many people ever have the experience of running Boston. If you do, take it.­ I have run it twice and it is worth all the work.

See, crossing the finish line at a race is always a victory. That sense of accomplishment, of pride, is something every runner or walker gets, regardless of their time or finishing position.

And you don’t have to run Boston to get that feeling. Any race will do. Just getting out there and being a part of an event, especially one with a good cause, is a victory.

Boston was my first experience with a marathon. I had never seen one, never even thought of one, until I started my freshman year of college in the city. This was when the marathon still started at noon, and we packed into Kenmore Square cheering for runners and the Red Sox simultaneously.

Having run it twice, I took a break -- it’s an amazing experience, but I had my turn and felt it fair to allow others the opportunity to have that same experience. Plus, there are so many fantastic races in the spring, you simply can’t be everywhere.

But watching the Boston Marathon this spring certainly brought back memories and made me want to do it again. But it also reminded me of the comraderie of every race and the inherent good behind them.

Here in Oldham County, we have the good fortune of having a great race series right in our backyard. Four races spread throughout the summer and into the fall, all benefiting great local causes.

The 2014 edition of the Oldham County Grand Slam kicks off this month with the Roman Road 5k at Crestwood Baptist Church, benefiting mission trips through the church. This is always a fun race, although a little bit challenging because you have to come back up the Veteran’s Memorial Parkway hill. Don’t be deterred, though, it’s a challenge you’ll be proud to have conquered!

The series also includes the YMCA Festival 5k on July 18, the Fastline Fun Raiser 5k Aug. 9 and the Applepatch Scenic 5k Sept. 20. Each benefits one (or more) Oldham County non-profits.

Not up for a 5k? Each race also offers a 1 mile walk, a great distance to get out and enjoy the exciting race atmosphere, cheer on other partcipants and support a worthy cause.

The race series also features several team challenges. There are two fastest-team competitions: one for public servants -- those working in fire departments, EMS, police and goverment; and one for corporate teams. There is also a largest team competition both for businesses and one just for employees of Oldham County Schools. We’re hoping to see some big school teams out there being healthy and positive role models!

The Roman Road 5k is May 31 at 8:30 a.m. Get it on your calendar! You can sign up for all four races for a discount before May 27.

The Oldham County Grand Slam may not be the Boston Marathon, but by supporting our local non-profits, you’re contributing to the same spirit that made Boston Strong over the past year. Learn more about the races and sign up at www.ocgrandslam.com.

Tracy Harris is an employee of Oldham County Schools and a volunteer with the Oldham County Grand Slam. She has completed nine marathons and runs for the New Balance Louisville racing team.