Running can be a lonely sport, but Russell Dudley has found inspiration through training with a larger group.
The Augustan will run in this Sunday's Augusta Half Marathon, and he is using the race as a warmup for the Spinx marathon the following Saturday in Greenville, S.C.
Dudley has been training with the Augusta Striders' Half Marathon Training Group, and he said that running with others has noticeably improved his time.
"Running with other people keeps you going, and helps you to keep a good pace," he said.
Dudley ran in high school and intermittently through his mid-20s, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that he became a serious runner.
His first race was a 10K, and he said that got him started.
"I wish I would have done a race earlier," he said, "I would have been hooked."
Races are so much fun, he says, that he schedules 5Ks for himself throughout his training for other races, just to keep him motivated.
This Sunday will be Dudley's second half marathon, and the Augusta race appeals to beginners and veterans.
Penny and Eugene Danner have been training with their 13-year-old son, Joseph. This will be Penny's third half marathon, but the first for Eugene and Joseph.
Penny said they became jealous of her medals from races, and decided to join her this year. They also train with the Striders group, in addition to running on their own.
The three of them agreed that it's the races themselves that keep you running.
"Once you've done one, it just becomes addictive," Penny said.
The Danners have followed the Half Marathon group's training schedule, and plan to back off in the next few days to rest up for the race.
"You want fresh legs for the day of the race," Penny said.
The Augusta Half Marathon is a weekend-long event, starting with a festival and fitness expo at the Augusta Common on Saturday. The race itself will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday on the north side of the Common on Reynolds Street, and the finish line is on the Broad Street end of the Common. The course closes at 10 a.m.