ST. LEO — Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club utilized its unusual terrain Saturday to challenge athletes — not the usual round of golfers, but runners looking to help a good cause.
The third annual Reindeer Run attracted about 180 runners from the Dade City area. Many of the participants in the 5K event were residents of Lake Jovita, as the event is the brainchild of their recreational director, Jon Suter.
"I've kept the course the same every year," said Suter, who has set up similar events in the past. "It's not a certified course but that is something we might look into in the future. I've measured the distance and it's a true 5K course that offers a lot of great scenery."
Suter said he organized the event to benefit East Pasco Habitat for Humanity "because of how much they do for our local community." The registration fees all go to the organization, which netted about $3,000 from this year's event.
"It's an easy event for us to be involved in because someone else organizes it and promotes it and all we have to do is show up," said Stephanie Black, a spokesperson for the East Pasco Habitat for Humanity. "This race generates a lot of support for the organization. Through events like this we cannot only raise funds but also awareness that there is a charity that you can contribute to and see an effect in your community."
The event's positive nature attracts many novices to 5K runs, but Suter said there is a good mix of racers and walkers.
Victor Avila's kids compete in 5K runs around the Dade City area, where they live, but they heard about the event through the running club at their school. Even though the event is not part of any competitive circuit, Avila said it still offers a good chance to get out and run.
"Some events are really competitive, but this is more for fun and doing something that the kids may not normally participate in," Avila said. "This is good because the kids didn't expect the hills. This race offers a different type of terrain that makes it unique."
Habitat for Humanity wasn't the only good cause at the event, however. Jane Mooney has done every Reindeer Run the past three years. Her 16-year-old son, Matt, has made local headlines for collecting more than a million aluminum cans to raise money for Habitat. "Part of our being here is to try to help get the word out about collecting the cans so we can get closer to our goal," she said. "This seems like a good place to do that."