By Katie Demeria
Shenandoah Valley Runners is encouraging local residents to get moving this Valentine's Day.
The Heart and Soles 5k will take place on Feb. 15 in Middletown. Race Director Marisa Varley, the member at large for Shenandoah Valley Runners, said the race is meant to encourage activity in the winter months.
"It's part of the winter series," she said. "And that whole series is meant to get people active during this season, when normally people don't want to get out and do anything because it's so cold. This gives them a reason to get out there."
This is the first year a Shenandoah Valley Runners race will take place in Middletown. In the past, the event was called "Run for a Rose" and was held at Sherando High School.
Varley took over the event this year and changed the name.
"Well, the heart part is because it's the day after Valentine's Day," she said. "Soles is obviously for shoes, and the other race director, April Adams, and I are best friends, and we call each other soul sisters. So it's just a play on words."
The event will include a canned food drive, Varley added. All proceeds will go toward C-Cap food bank in Winchester.
"We're encouraging all participants to donate," she said. "Or, even if you're just around the area, if you want to drop them off we'll definitely take them."
Every canned good donated will enter the participant into a drawing to win a $20 gift card to Runners' Retreat in Winchester.
Varley said all participants will also be able to purchase a large two-topping pizza from The Italian Touch in Middletown for the discounted price of $6.50.
Vern Heavner, vice president of Shenandoah Valley Runners, said the club attempts to have races at various locations through Frederick and Warren counties on a regular basis.
"We like to rotate the races around and change them up," he said. "And we wanted to do the offer with Italian Touch to hopefully get more people spending money in Middletown and visiting the area."
Heavner has been the vice president of the club for the past two years, and will become president in March.
"We try to get the community to come out together and run," he said. "The winter series is to help keep people active and give them the option to get out of their homes and go running. We do a pretty good job of getting them to come out, even in the cold and the wind."
Shenandoah Valley Runners has 511 active members, and averages between 200 and 300 participants per race, Heavner said. The Heart and Soles 5k has 305 runners registered so far.
The race will begin at Middletown's Town Hall and head down Church Street, Heavner said. It will end at the Town Hall again, with a distance totaling five kilometers.
"We always want people to come out, even if they're not running," Varley said. "We can use volunteers, too, and anyone who wants to donate some canned goods."
The race will begin at 9:30 a.m. Online registration closes at 5 p.m. Friday but Heavner said anyone interested in running should still be able to sign up on the day of the event.
To register, go to www.svrunners.org.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org