Living here in the South, fall mostly is a state of mind. Our weather won't really cool off until, maybe, October at the earliest.
But signaled in part by Labor Day weekend, fall brings with it the college football that many of us have eagerly awaited since the last game of the previous season.
Not many of us are gifted enough to actually play college football, however; our participation is limited to cheering from the sidelines or from the couch. But all of us can get into the fitness game by participating in the many organized running events that fall also brings.
More of those events would benefit from the collective wisdom in the room Aug. 27 when Michael McCauley from Fleet Feet Sports and Randy DuTeau from the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau held an information session for race directors. (I was on the program, too, providing information about race marketing. But I didn't have a Powerpoint presentation, so my part wasn't as gee-whiz special as theirs.)
Along with a couple of other seasoned veterans in the room, McCauley and DuTeau helped give race organizers plenty of information on how to hold a new race or improve an existing event. The best news is that the turnout and response was good enough that they hope to do it again on a somewhat regular basis. I'll do my best to keep everyone posted regarding the next session.
Meanwhile, to get into the swing of things, here are some of the area's upcoming races that are looking for participants:
* I Care Ministry, a nonprofit focused on the rescue and restoration of women and children involved in modern-day slavery - these days known as human trafficking - will hold the Shed Light on Trafficking 5K and Family Challenge at Blanchard Woods Park on Oct. 26. Registration starts at 8 a.m., and the race begins at 9 a.m.
To make things more interesting, the family challenge portion of the race will allow families to run together and, at each quarter-mile, to complete a challenge before moving on. (That could be fun, and hilarious.) In addition, ultramarathoner Steven Matjasko will run 100 miles starting a day earlier, with the plan to finish the last three miles with the other runners.
Even cooler: Aimee Copeland, the young woman who lost multiple limbs to an infection and spent much of her time recovering here at Doctor's Hospital - and who was the focus of a 5K fundraiser last June - will be at the race with her family to show support.
* First Baptist Church of Augusta will hold its Band Together Run for Missions 1-mile fun run and 5K road race on Oct. 19, with registration at 8 a.m. and the races starting at 9 .m. To sign up, go to www.fbcaugusta.org and click on the Band Together link.
* The Harlem Hustle 5K, a fundraiser for the Harlem High School girl's basketball team, will be held Nov. 2 in Harlem. Sign up at http://www.active.com_event_detail.cfm?event_id=2109354.
I expect to see a great many more fundraisers for high school sports. State funding cuts to education have hit athletics pretty hard.
* The Life is RUFF without a LEASH 5K will be held at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at the Augusta Canal, starting at the end of Milledge Road just past GreenJackets stadium. Register at http://beta.active.com/augusta-ga/running/life-is-ruff-without-a-leash-5....
* The WSI Savannah River Run, a fundraiser for the United Way, will be held Nov. 2 at North Augusta's beautiful Riverview Park. Go to http://wsiriverrun.org/.
* Registration is now open for the annual Jingle Jam, a 10K fundraiser for SafeHomes of Augusta. Packet pickup is Dec. 6, and the race is Dec. 7 at Evans Towne Center Park. Sign up at www.raceit.com/Register/?event=22816.
Don't stay on the sidelines - sign up for a race or two today and get the fall season started. And don't forget to let me know if you have a running-related topic you'd like to read about, or if you have a race for which you'd like publicity. I'll be happy to help.
Let's hit the road!
(Barry L. Paschal retired from journalism in June after 30 years in the Augusta media, and now serves as senior director of marketing and communications for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)