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Run the east side at St. James Missions 5K

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 21, 2014

You’ve run along Congress Avenue, down Cesar Chavez Street and up that big hill up Enfield, right? Nearly every major foot race in Austin takes place west of Interstate 35.

One of the few runs staged on the east side — the St. James Missions 5K — kicks off at 9 a.m. March 29.

The St. James run, now in its seventh year, benefits the Alzheimer’s Association Capitol of Texas chapter. Just as importantly, it helps fund the church’s homegrown wellness program. Consider that the church occupies a part of the city where fast food joints, liquor stores and pawn shops outnumber parks and fitness centers by a wide margin.

At the church’s helm stands the Rev. Bobby Clemons, who founded the race and now serves as its director.

Clemons started running when he was in prison in the 1980s, sprinting around the prison yard. One day a guard told Clemons he might make a good marathon runner.

It turns out he did. Clemons was released on parole in 1990. He ran a marathon 55 days later, and another six months after that. In 1991 he set a personal record at the distance, finishing 26.2 miles in a blistering 3 hours and 6 minutes.

Since then he’s run more than 50 marathons, including the Boston Marathon. Now he wants to share the message that running can help keep you physically — and spiritually — fit.

“The St. James Missions 5K is a labor of love and a way we can engage the entire community in physical fitness,” Clemons says.

To that end the church developed a wellness program that includes exercise and healthy cooking classes. The St. James Missions 5K makes it all possible.

The event’s USA Track and Field certified and chip timed 5K course starts at St. James Missionary Baptist Church, 3417 East Martin Luther King Boulevard. It takes runners through the rolling hills of East Austin. A Kid’s & Seniors 1K run is also planned, as are health screenings, a health fair, children’s entertainment and healthy food vendors.

Entry fee for the 5K is $30. For more information or to register go to http://stjamescmbc.org/5k-run/.