Seventh-day Adventists from around the world will meet for the 60th General Conference session this summer — but this will be the first time that they are invited to awake before 5 a.m. to go for a run.
The health leaders of the General Conference and North American Division have teamed up to organize a 5-kilometer (3-mile) race on July 5 on the sidelines of the major business meeting of the Adventist world church in San Antonio, Texas.
The “5K Fun Run,” which will follow a loop around downtown San Antonio, will start at 5 a.m. with the distribution of race materials and T-shirts to the runners. The one-hour race starts at 6 a.m.
Anyone in good health can participate in the event, which aims to raise awareness about childhood obesity and share the Adventist health message with San Antonio residents.
“We are not a theoretical people. We are a people who live what we preach,” said Peter N. Landless, race co-organizer and director of the health ministries department at the General Conference.
The General Conference session, which is held every five years and gathers more than 35,000 Adventists, runs from July 2 to 11.
The early start for the race aims to avoid the hot July weather in San Antonio, where the daytime temperature averages 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 C).
“San Antonio is hot,” Landless said. “One of the reasons that it is so early is so we can get out there before the heat gets on too much.”
A medals ceremony will be held at 7 a.m., followed by a health expo and an opportunity to hand out copies of the Adventist Church’s 2015 mission health book, “Health and Wellness: Secrets That Will Change Your Life” by Mark A. Finley and Peter N. Landless.
The race will cap a five-year drive by the Adventist Church to meet communities’ physical and spiritual needs under an effort known as comprehensive health ministry.
San Antonio would not be the first place where church leaders have embraced a race as a way to promote the Adventist lifestyle. An annual marathon in the U.S. state of Tennessee was recently named in honor of the Adventist Church after the church’s Georgia-Cumberland Conference decided to sponsor the event. The newly named “Seventh-day Adventist 7 Bridges Marathon” will take place in the city of Chattanooga in October.
The North American Division has also actively promoted running with Let's Move Day, an annual event in September when churches and schools across the division hold 5K races and other physical activities in their communities.
The division hosted small-scale races during the General Conference sessions in Indianapolis in 1990 and in Atlanta in 2010.
In San Antonio, the number of runners for the 5K Fun Run is limited to 2,500, and nearly 500 people have already registered on the official website. Registrations are only accepted online and must be completed by May 31. Registration is free, but a special race T-shirt costs $10.
“We hope to engage not only delegates and church members, but community members as well,” said Katia Reinert, the other race co-organizer and director of health ministries for the North American Division.
Landless said the race was not meant only for athletes.
“This is not a super athletic event. It’s a fun run,” he said. “That means people can jog or walk if they wish. The time limit is an hour. At 12 minutes per kilometer, it should be simple to complete.”