BELPRE - Many people came out Sunday to walk and run to raise awareness for issues affecting many mothers.
The sixth annual Mother's Day 5K Race and free kids races were held Sunday at Belpre's Civitan Park.
The purpose of the run was to raise money and bring attention to breastfeeding education and support in the Mid-Ohio Valley, said Danielle Bergum, one of the event's organizers.
BRETT DUNLAP Special to the Times
Around 330 people, who represented a wide variety of skills and abilities, participated in the sixth annual Mother’s Day 5K Race and free kids races Sunday at Belpre’s Civitan Park.
"We are trying to raise awareness in our area," she said. "West Virginia has some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the entire country and Ohio is not very far behind.
"A lot of that is due to poor birth support and awareness throughout the region."
Money raised from Sunday's event will go towards workshops for families, breastfeeding cafe events (for support and education), socials and more to learn about birth and breastfeeding in this area.
Sunday's race brought out just over 330 participants who represented a wide variety of skills and abilities.
Abby Vaughn, of Davisville, came with her husband and mother while they pushed her daughter and a young niece in a stroller.
"We just started walking about four weeks ago just to get healthy," she said. "We saw this and decided to do it as a family."
Vaughn felt like she needed to do more to get in shape.
"I definitely wasn't doing enough to get into shape," she said. "I need to lose some weight and get healthy.
"I can manage walking so I did that."
Lori Miller, Vaughn's mother, said the organizers of Sunday's race helped with another race they were involved with a couple weeks ago and wanted to show support. Miller expected the race to last about an hour or so.
"Some people will do it really fast," she said. "There is a woman here who just ran in the Boston Marathon.
"She will be really fast."
Vaughn and her family planned to take as much time as needed to complete the course.
The race also sees a high turnout from members of the River Cities Runners and Walkers Club and other runners who are racing for points through their race series.
"We have a wide range of people participating," Bergum said.
Zach Chovan, of Marietta, was participating in his first Mother's Day 5K Race.
"It is a beautiful day and I am an avid runner," he said. "This is a good cause and we are supporting mothers on Mother's Day.
"It looks like there is a good turnout and I am really excited."
The day started off cloudy and cool, but the sun came out and things were warming up by the time the race started Sunday afternoon.
"It is nice and warm... get the sweat bubbles going," Chovan said.
Throughout the spring, there have been a number of races and runs held throughout the region.
"There have been races every weekend, but now you are starting to see Saturdays and Sundays being populated with a couple of options on either day," Chovan said. "This is definitely the height of the running season for sure."
Chovan had taken a couple of years off from running and has gotten back into it over the last six months, running around five miles daily.
"It is physical fitness," he said. "It is good for the mind, the body and the soul and you are around a lot of likeminded people that have a common interest."
Participants in Sunday's 5K followed a route that included Blennerhassett Avenue, Parkersburg Avenue, John Street and Walnut Street before finishing at the Belpre marina. Once all 5K participants completed the race, the kids' races were held at the picnic shelter.
Bergum said they worked hard to make sure the race was a family friendly event where people can bring their kids and babies.
"You don't have to push them aside or find a sitter," she said. "They are all incorporated.
"We have a lot of moms carrying their babies or pushing them in strollers."
Another interesting aspect to the race was the high number of female participants.
"What is neat about our race is that we are one of the few races that has such a high female attendance," Bergum said. "Most races have a high male participation.
"With this being a Mother's Day race and what it is supporting, we get a lot of people who are supporting the cause."