Fort Vancouver Run
• What: Run through Fort Vancouver National Historic Site for an event that supports the Fort Vancouver National Trust.
• Where: Starts and finishes at Fred Meyer Grand Central Shopping Center, 2500 Columbia House Blvd.
• When: Race starts 7:45 a.m., March 2. Registration opens at 6:45 a.m.
• Cost: $45 for 15K, $39 for 10K and 6K, $7 to $10 for kids fun run and 1K run. Includes goody bag, T-shirt and other items.
• Information: Energy Events Fort vancouver Run
More spring and summer runs:
March 22: March Muddy Madness, Northwest Personal Training event tickets
April 13: Blooms to Brews Half Marathon & 10K, Blooms to Brews event page/
May 3: Walk Run for the Animals, Humane Society for Southwest Washington run page
June 1: Run Like a Girl, Second Step Housing run page
June 13-15: The Vancouver USA Marathon, Half Marathon and Freedom 5K, vancouverusamarathon.com
June 21: Summer Solstice Amazing Urban Adventure Race, Northwest Personal training events tickets
July 4: Firecracker 4-miler, Fit Right NW event page/
July 12: 20th annual Lyle's Myles 5K Run and Walk, www.lylesmyles.com/
July 20: Girlfriends and Dudes Triathlon, Girlfriends and Dudes event page
July 20: Harvest Hay Half-Marathon, Havest Hay event page
July 27: Lacamas Lake Half Marathon, Lacamas Lake event page
Aug. 2: The Spartan Sprint, Spartan Sprint event page
Aug. 9: Cosmo 7K, Energy Events information page
There's more to running these days than just the meditative rhythm of feet on track.
With a host of events for runners all year long, the activity is more of a nexus for a budding social scene. And it's never too late to join in, said leaders of Clark County's running community.
"Health and fitness is becoming a much bigger part of people's lives," said Elba Benzler of Get Bold Events in Battle Ground. "It's fun. And going out for these runs is more of an event with entertainment. There's music, vendors, T-shirts. You're out with your friends, you feel this huge sense of accomplishment."
Several local runs end with food, music and sometimes a beer garden. They can be great places to meet new people while also focusing on fitness.
"Many events also support local charities — so it's really nice because you're able to do something for the community while you do something for yourself," Benzler said.
This weekend's Fort Vancouver Run, organized by Energy Events in Vancouver, isn't the first run of the spring and summer season, since there are events almost every week. But it is a great place to get your feet wet — if it rains, anyway — in the running community.
"We've got plenty of room," said Brian Davis, owner of Energy Events. "People are welcome to just come down and sign up. It's a fun time. It's social and it'll get you active."
The Fort Vancouver Run, which starts at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday (although you'll want to get there at least a half-hour before the race starts to sign up), includes a 15K, 10K and 6K run and a pair of fun runs for the kids.
And if you're not really in shape for running, that's OK, too, he said.
"We actually have a lot of walkers," Davis said. "We encourage that. Walkers are usually people who are just getting out for the first time, although we have some competitive walkers, too. It's a great way to get out and be social."
Walkers tend to do the shorter runs, the 10K or the 6K, so that they have more time to finish, Davis said. Runners tend to prefer the 10K and 15K, although the 6K is great for beginners, he said.
"If people start by walking and like it, we also have a training program that kicks off March 8," Davis said. "It's a three-month program with a coach that will train you for the half-marathon (that's part of the Vancouver USA Marathon) this summer."
That program costs $135 and includes the $70 half-marathon entry fee.
The Fort Vancouver Run costs range from $39 to $45 for adults and $7 to $10 for kids, with more information on both events at energyevents.com.
Many walkers graduate into running as they gain fitness and speed, although it's certainly not a requirement, Benzler said.
"Start by walking, then run a block," Benzler said. "Then catch your breath as you walk a block, then run another block. Eventually you'll be able to run two blocks as you slowly build up your endurance. Pretty soon, you'll be running marathons."
Get Bold's next event is the Blooms to Brews Half Marathon & 10K on April 13, which costs $60 for the half-marathon and $37 for the 10K if people sign up in advance. Information for that event is at http://www.getboldevents.com/.
Walkers are welcome to join in the Blooms to Brews event, which ends with a beer garden. Runners take a scenic pathway through Woodland farm country that trails by the Columbia River and tulip fields.
"It's a very flat course that takes you to the bottom of Woodland, you go by the river, there are thousands of acres of tulips," Benzler said. "It's just really, really pretty."
If you're looking for something a little more grimy, you only have to wait until March 22 for Northwest Personal Training's March Muddy Madness run.
That event, which is sort of a kinder, gentler adventure race than the larger Spartan Sprint on Aug. 2, features running and walking through mud — for fun, said Sherri McMillan, owner of the company.
"This kind of event has definitely become more popular — the adventure race genre," McMillan said. "It's a little more mainstream than the Spartan Race, which includes crawling under barbed wire and things like that. This is more for the general population — it's just mud, not blood."
That event costs $30 for adults and $15 for kids in advance. Adults cost $40 at the gate, but the kids' price remains the same. Information for that event is online at www.nwpersonaltraining.com.
And whether you run or walk, the events have a great payback — you feel better and you may just make some friends in the process, Benzler said.
"Running makes me feel young and alive," Benzler said. "I'm 45 years old and I'm in the best shape of my life. I don't have any health issues. And I have a lot of fun."