Barry Paschal is a Columbia County resident who serves as senior director of marketing and communications for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA - He retired after 30 years in Augusta media, most recently as publisher as The Columbia County News-Times. Follow on Twitter @barrypaschal
Posted November 10, 2013 10:27 am

Augusta area is becoming a mecca for outdoor events

Randy DuTeau, the energetic executive director of the Columbia County Convention and Visitor Bureau, recently returned from a trip to Salt Lake City to learn (among other things) about attracting tourists with outdoor recreation.

Seeing his vision go to work for our community will be exciting, because this area has tremendous, still-untapped potential. From rowing events to running events to cycling events and triathlons, the Augusta area is starting to put itself on the map as a place for people to get physical in ways other than swinging a golf club (or drinking beer while watching other people swing golf clubs).

DuTeau is an avid cyclist, and like me a beginning runner – though unlike me, he stays in pretty good shape and is building for continuous improvement. I’ve been down for a few weeks nursing a herniated disc in my back, but I hope to be back at it soon – especially in time to run in Jingle Jam (more on that in a few minutes).

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an opportunity to participate, this is the time of year for great running events in our area – particularly for beginners. Here are just a few upcoming races:

On Nov. 16, the Great Pumpkin Chase will be held at 9 a.m. at Lake Olmstead. Find registration at

Later that day, at 5 p.m., is the Great Santa Chase at Lights of the South, 633 Louisville Road in Grovetown.

One of the cool things about this nighttime event is that it allows participants to be the first of the year to see the popular Christmas attraction at Lights of the South as they run a 5K or 1-mile fun run through the park. The event is a fundraiser for the Christmas House at Fort Gordon, and last year hundreds of runners had a blast and raised more than $4,000.

Time is running out to sign up: go to

On Nov. 30 – just a couple of days after Thanksgiving, and just in time to work off all those leftovers – is Augusta’s Turkey Trot.

A fundraiser for the Salvation Army, the resurrected Turkey Trot offers 10K, 5K and 1-mile fun-run options. Adding to the fun – and building on a trend in running events – is the option of running in costume.

It’s typical these days to see female runners in tutus. But many of these events kick it up a notch, and for the Turkey Trot participants are encouraged to wear costumes reminiscent of the 1980s.

Oh, bring on the big hair.

The Turkey Trot starts at 8 a.m. at the old Richmond Academy building at 540 Telfair St. Sign up at

Then, of course, there is the Jingle Jam 10K, a fundraiser for Safe Homes of Augusta. The race will be held at Evans Towne Center Park at 8 a.m. Dec. 7, with a really cool packet pickup event Friday, Dec. 6, at Stevens Creek Church. 

It’s also an event that encourages participants to dress up in costumes, and some of the runners really go all out. All I did last year was wear an elf hat, but I had to ditch it halfway through the race. Let me just say that felt is not very breathable material. I thought my head was going to explode from overheating. (I'm carrying the hat in the photo - proof that I finished my first 10K. My tongue, literally, was hanging out at the end because I sprinted to beat Augusta attorney Ed Enoch to the finish line. That was fun.)

To register for Jingle Jam, go to

Running in these races typically is just for the fun and camaraderie, but it can be part of a serious training regimen, too (even in costume). They’re a great way to start getting in shape for the Feb. 23 GRU Augusta Half-Marathon and 10K. Sign up at

Know of any other upcoming events that you’d like to publicize? Email me at

Let’s hit the road!


(Barry L. Paschal retired from the media in June after 30 years in the Augusta area, most recently as publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. He now serves as senior director of marketing and communications for Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA: Follow on twitter @barrypaschal.)