It's a bit of a toss-up when it comes to the biggest single day in running in the United States, but would you believe one of the two contenders is in the middle of the South's sultry summer?
Last fall, using 2011 numbers, Running USA declared that Thanksgiving topped the Fourth of July as the day with the most race participants and the most races.
In 2011, 676,000 people ran in 470 races on Thanksgiving compared to 248,000 in 355 races on Independence Day. But this week, Running USA listed 574 races scheduled for the Fourth.
Among them is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Peachtree Road Race, the largest race in the United States in 2013 with a whopping 58,043 finishers (26,590 more than the Cooper River Bridge Run that year). The July 4 tradition in Atlanta marks its 45th year on Friday.
South Carolina's largest July Fourth race, the Hilton Head Island's Firecracker 5000, drew 1,632 last year, making it the state's 14th largest race. This year's race is in its 29th year, making it Beaufort County's oldest run.
For those willing to make the drive to Hilton Head, the event will start at 8 a.m. Friday at Jarvis Creek Park. It also features a children's fun run, live music, a craft beer garden ($4 per beer, cash-only), fresh fruit, ice cold refreshments and door prizes The fee is $25-$35.
In the Charleston area, both July 4th races are considered off-road and much more low-key than Atlanta or Hilton Head.
The Extra Mile's seventh annual July Fourth Cross Country 5K will be at 8 a.m. Friday at Trophy Lakes on Johns Island. The fee is $20-$25. Last year's race had 153 finishers.
And Green Foot Event's second annual Firecracker 4 Miler will be at 8:30 a.m. at Laurel Hill Plantation in Mount Pleasant. The cost is $30-$35 and includes hot dogs and cold beer. Last year's inaugural event drew 132 finishers.
Sprint Tri No. 3
For years, the Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series had scheduled an event on the Sunday after the Fourth of July.
The series' third of five triathlons will start rolling at 7 a.m. Sunday at James Island County Park.
The triathlon features a 600-yard open water swim, a 12-mile bike ride through the park and out and back on Riverland Drive, and finishes with a flat 5K run. Participants must be comfortable swimming in open water and riding a bicycle on roads open to traffic.
For those who have not participated in the first two races, this is the last chance to qualify for the series championship, which requires participation in at least three races. The remaining races will be July 27 and Aug. 10, which is the championship race and features double-point scoring.
The fee for a single race is $50-$60, or $137-$165 for the remaining three.
Kids tri training
The Summerville Family YMCA will conduct a Youth Triathlon Training Program that will begin Tuesday and run through July 31.
The program, 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Oakbrook YMCA, will provide ages 7 to 14 the opportunity to practice the three legs of the triathlon and the opportunity to be coached by seasoned triathletes and YMCA staff.
The program is designed to prepare children for the sixth annual Summerville Family YMCA Youth Triathlon on Aug. 16 at The Ponds Farmhouse, which is located within The Ponds community.
The cost of the training program is $75 for members and $100 for nonmembers, and includes the fee for the triathlon registration. The fee for the triathlon alone is $25-$35.
Want a stand-up paddleboard but don't want to spend $1,000-plus? Here's your chance.
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is giving away a "deluxe stand-up paddleboard package" to one lucky local adult, anyone age 18 or older residing in Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester or Berkeley counties, who registers online at www.CharlestonParksSUP.com until July 21.
"We are excited to be able to offer a contest that highlights the fun and fitness aspects of this fast growing sport," says John Radel, the commission's paddlesports coordinator. "Our goal is to gain awareness and excitement about the SUP racing community as well as the many family-friendly, affordable paddling programs available to the public in the county parks."
The grand prize will be a Soulr Glidr Bamboo Paddleboard package that includes a paddleboard, deck pad, fins and paddle valued at $1,200.
A new park?
The commission also is hosting a public workshop about the future of the agency's property near the Limehouse Bridge from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the West Ashley High School cafeteria. An official presentation on the 85.5-acre property will start at 6:45 p.m.
The undeveloped land is on the Stono River between West Ashley and Johns Island.
In December 2012, the commission acquired the Limehouse Point property through a donation. The site offers views of the Stono River and opportunities for kayaking, bird watching and other recreational activities.
The master planning process for this project will explore pedestrian and vehicular circulation, a dock connection, and improvements that provide opportunities for recreation.
Beyond the site, the planning process will explore connections to the West Ashley Greenway and the Southeast Coast Saltwater Paddling Trail. The intended process will include seeking guidance and input from a steering committee and the community.
The Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series, which is in its 24th year, offers not only a chance for elite triathletes to duke it out but for “newbies’ to test their strokes, wheels and strides in a non-threatening atmosphere.×