Some came to test their endurance while others came to just have fun, but all of the runners participating in the weekend’s Run 4 Water event came together to raise more than $4,000 for people in need of clean drinking water.
"The total amount of money that was raised Saturday was between $4,000-$5,000," said Run 4 Water director Greg Armstrong, a marathon runner and triathlete who works as a teacher at Friendship Christian School. "But it was really more about getting kids out and running for a cause. We were trying to raise awareness and were very successful in that aspect."
Armstrong said the event was designed to create awareness concerning people in the world, and even this state, who are living with no clean water.
“We’ve worked in Honduras and other countries, and we a have other trips planned, but we actually have a team leaving soon for Hancock County right here in Tennessee where they’ll be drilling five wells,” Armstrong said.
On Saturday, nearly 400 kindergarten through eighth-grade students finished the final mile of a 26-day marathon at Winfree Bryant Middle School. They were running 1 mile a day leading up to the completion. After finishing the final mile, they were greeted and congratulated by Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto and given a medal to acknowledge their efforts
The event also featured an afternoon Run 4 Color, where runners of all ages were splashed with a different color for each section of the course completed.
About 60-70 participants came out for the “fun and productive” color run, according to Armstrong.
But it was the 24-hour run throughout the weekend that proved to be both the most grueling and unique. Armstrong said it’s Tennessee’s only 24-hour run, and he did it running in sandals.
Run 4 Water is a local nonprofit organization started in Wilson County by Armstrong that focuses on raising awareness and solving water problems in the world.
Armstrong also said Team Alex participated in Run 4 Water.
Alex Johnson is a student at Friendship Christian School, who has a rare form of skeletal dysplasia and struggles to walk.
Johnson, teamed with avid runner Armstrong, forming Team Alex to make a difference and inspire.
Team Alex finished Sherry’s Run 5K recently in the top 10 in just more than 18 minutes.
Armstrong said Johnson finished his final mile of the marathon Saturday morning.
Armstrong said Johnson inspired him, and he hopes to inspire others in the future.
“We want to try to reach out to those with special needs in the future and maybe get them to partner up with a buddy who could help them, too,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said though he is the founder of Run 4 Water, he also sees it as an opportunity for young people to take a leadership role, with young adults 18-20 taking on a lot of the responsibility within the organization.
“I think it’s a platform to demonstrate to the community that young people can do amazing things,” Armstrong said.
For more information on Run 4 Water, visit run4water.net.
– Staff writer Caitlin Rickard contributed to this report.