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Runners shed clothes for good cause

3 mins read

By Lee Scott

On Dec. 9, I drove up to Kiawah Island to watch a marathon. Please allow me to emphasize the word “watch.” I did not run, I observed. 

This event was the 40th Annual Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon and half-marathon.  

The race is sanctioned by the USA Track and Field Organization and is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon. The purpose of my visit was to watch two 30-somethings run the half-marathon. 

As I was driving on the island, I started to notice clothes on the side of the race course. This went on for miles. There were coats, shirts, pullovers and sweatshirts; all the kinds of clothing you normally see on runners. 

Now, let me tell you it was very cold that morning. I have no doubt many runners were wearing at least pullovers at first, but they got overheated as they were running. So, I understand why they would be shedding clothing, however I wondered how were they going to get their clothes back? Do they drop an article of clothing at a specific spot and then go back to pick it up? 

After running 26 miles, do you really want to go back and find an old sweatshirt? Do they have relatives and friends grab their discarded gear? Or maybe, they just don’t care and leave it there.

When my two friends finished their half-marathon, I asked about all the clothes.

“Oh, that’s for charity. A lot of racers are encouraged to drop clothing,” Carrie responded. “Any clothing left after the race gets donated and there are many charity opportunities in races nowadays.”

Sure enough, I looked up the Kiawah Island Golf Resort website. “Clothing not claimed after the event is donated to local nonprofit.” What a great idea! 

There were a few other ways for people to donate, like the Soles for Souls program which allows runners to donate their shoes.

After reading about Kiawah’s race, I started to investigate further. There are stories in newspapers all over the country about cities holding races where the runners are dropping clothes and volunteers are picking them up to take to homeless shelters and nonprofits. 

According to one article regarding the 2014 New York Marathon, runners donated 26 tons of clothing to Goodwill.  

Goodwill set up bins along the race course so runners could just throw items into the boxes.

It was an amazing eye-opener as I watched people shedding their clothes that morning, and I was glad to hear this trend is spreading throughout the country. It was also announced that spectators could shed their outerwear too; something for me to remember for next year’s race. 

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