- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2008

Motivation and scheduling are the two biggest obstacles in finding a consistent running regimen.

Goal-setting is important, but many recreational runners don’t sign up for that neighborhood 5K race. They may not feel up to task. Or they don’t want their times posted online for everyone to see.

But there is a way to do something fun and athletic without the same pressure.

Team relays.

Not the team relays in marathons in which two or three or four people split the 26.2 miles or at track meets, because there still is a clock involved.

Instead, try Tom’s Run on June 5-7.

It’s a “200-mile team-building fitness event” in memory of chief warrant officer Tom Brooks of the U.S. Coast Guard. Time is not kept.

Each relay team can have as many members as it wants, and each one has a team leader. Twenty-two teams are in this year’s race.

According to the event’s Web site, “Tom’s Run is NOT a race. It is a team-building, memorial fitness event. The point is not to reach the finish line first, but to reach it together. Oh! … and to have a lot of fun along the way.”

The relay snakes down the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal towpath from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown, a most scenic route I enjoyed on bicycle trips in the 1980s.

Runners will leave Cumberland, Md., sometime after midnight on the first day. Accompanied at all times by a bike escort, team members will take turns running along the towpath to Georgetown.

From there, the course curves back to Bethesda to finish at the Uniformed Services University inside the U.S. Navy Medical Center grounds. The run ends on Day 3, when the teams cross the finish line together at about 11 a.m.

Tom’s Run, an annual event, is held to raise awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The race is named for Brooks, who died of the disease in 1999 and was an avid fitness promoter.

When Brooks was diagnosed with ALS, his friends started Tom’s Run in his honor because of his influence on them. The field has quadrupled since five teams participated in 2000, the second year of the race.

For more information, go to www.tomsrun2008.com.

- The Relay for Life at South Lakes High School in Reston is this weekend.

Since the mid-1980s, Relay for Life has been a challenging and fun way to raise money for the American Cancer Society. It is an overnight event of about 20 hours with teams of eight to 15 people taking turns walking or running around the track from noon yesterday until 8 this morning.

According to the ACS, “while the Relay is taking place, there is a party atmosphere created by people camping out, enjoying entertainment, eating and a competition, but still it can be a good workout.”

Relays For Life, which have had more than 3.5 million participants, take place around the world. Find the schedule and locations at www.cancer.org.

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