Elizabeth Dewberry, race director for LakePoint, said the event came from two questions: what could women do for Valentine’s Day and how could LakePoint kick off the year?
“And so we wanted to make a ladies-only race to highlight the women of LakePoint, the moms of all the kids that will be coming here to have sports and play sports. So there’s just not a lot of — there’s not a lot of activities for just women and Valentine’s weekend, and what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with wine and chocolate,” she said.
The three runs are all scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, with the 5k being priced at $40 through Feb. 1 and $45 after Feb. 1, according to the run’s website, www.wineandchocolatehalf.com. The 10k entry fees are $50 through Feb. 1 and $55 thereafter, while the half-marathon is $70 through Feb. 1, $75 through Feb. 15 and $80 on race day. The race will start and finish at the LakePoint complex in Emerson.
Dewberry explained the event would also have a focus on health, specifically heart disease.
“Since heart disease is the number one killer of women — you have cancer runs, you have arthritis runs, you have all of these things,” Dewberry said. “You know, what better way than to teach women they can actually enjoy, in moderation, fun things like wine and chocolate, which you can, and then enjoy a beautiful run, or walk, through Emerson, Ga., with their friends and then just have a good day of being pampered?
“And so what we hope to create, and we want to create this right here in Bartow County, is a nationally recognized event that the beneficiary is the [American Heart Association], and we do have a partnership with the American Heart Association.”
Having three lengths for the event is intended to keep it open to runners of all levels, said Michael Grade, senior vice president of sports operations. He added there are plans for more six to eight more races throughout the year as part of the organization’s run series.
“It wasn’t one of the prime drivers of LakePoint. We have some core sports, obviously, baseball, soccer, lacrosse and others, but it’s something we’ve been thinking about for quite some time, and it’s going to be a great part of business because it can do so many things on the health side, in the exposure for Bartow County and the city of Emerson. It plays into so many things we’re excited about, and certainly the health of not just young athletes, but older and older people as well,” Grade said.
Both Dewberry and Grade said the run also was intended to help tie LakePoint in with Bartow County and local businesses. Toward that end, Swheat Market is catering a brunch that will start at 10 a.m. on the race day. By working with the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, race organizers have also been able to host local businesses in the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce’s Team Bartow tent.
“The very first call Michael asked me to make was to Ellen Archer at the CVB and she has been critically important in the success of this event because she has reached out to all of the folks in the business community, and we have what is called the Team Bartow tent. So we’ll have our own tent highlighting all the great things about Bartow County. So we’re really excited about that. We’ve had a lot of support from the community,” said Dewberry.
Archer, a director at the CVB, said LakePoint was expecting a large turnout for the run, which would benefit local businesses.
“It is the inaugural public event sponsored by LakePoint and they are making a festival, carnival atmosphere. It’s targeted at women. We expect to have over 1,000 runners and this is just a great opportunity to showcase the attractions and the community in general. … Everybody’s been — I’m thrilled with the participation we’ve been having,” Archer said.
“… We have about a dozen participants right now, and we’d like to have 20, at least. I’m really happy. We just sent out the invitation to participate … I think Wednesday. Already got a dozen or so. It’s no cost. It’ll be fun, no-cost marketing.”
Archer later clarified that only the Team Bartow tent had no cost, and any business or organization featured in the tent would only be able to have a display, with no retail allowed.
One business coming in from outside Bartow County, however, is M Chocolate, which will be handling the chocolate tastings.
“Swheat Market is doing the brunch. … One very cool aspect, and again as a runner, LakePoint has really pulled out all the stops to welcome ladies to Bartow County, in the first, highest-class manner, because we’ve partnered with M Chocolate. … They’re going to come and do a wine/chocolate pairing, so ladies are going to have the opportunity to pick out a piece of chocolate and they will teach them what wine goes with that,” Dewberry said. “So we’ve worked with distributors across the state to donate the wine and so Swheat Market will be providing the food. So ladies will get a shirt, a medal, a bag, a luncheon and a wine and chocolate sampling. So I’ve never been to a race like that.”
Although the run is aimed at women, and men are encouraged to cheer their wives or girlfriends on from the sides, boys under the age of 17 will be able to run with their mothers if they choose to. Men will get their own event in March, Dewberry added.
“Well, the next one that’s in the planning process, we haven’t announced it … what’s called the Brown Run. That’s going to be on Father’s Day weekend. That’s going to be for the fathers, but it’s going to be beer and barbecue and a half-marathon, 10k, 5k and a 0.0, so if no one wants to run they can just come and enjoy the festival,” she said.
Registration is open on the event’s website, www.wineandchocolatehalf.com. Packet pickup opens Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. at the LakePoint offices at 755 Highway 293, Emerson.
LakePoint partner and Chief Marketing Officer Judy Sparks believed the race, and other events to come, are a way for the LakePoint organization to become a part of Bartow County.
“I think what’s really important is that while LakePoint is going to have a focus on servicing the youth travel sports market nationally, we are also very cognizant of staying true to our roots in Bartow County and being a very active community partner throughout the year,” she said. “You’ll see this in our running events, as well as our participation of all of the events in Bartow County, such as the steeplechase and we’re very active in the chamber. So we are, we’re very excited about calling Bartow County home, and this is just the first of many things to come that engages the community and LakePoint together.”