A Racing start to Independence Day Celebrations - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

A Racing start to Independence Day Celebrations

July 4, 2006

Valdosta - Fourth of July celebrations in Valdosta started early today with the inaugural Baytree 8 Kilometer Independence Day Race.  About 150 runners from as far away as Tennessee showed up to compete.

A few years ago, Charlie Mizell only watched these races from the sidelines.  "I didn't think that I could do it, roll that far at one time," Mizell said

With no experience, Mizell entered his first race and has been hooked ever since.  "It's just something I like to do. Get our there and show I can do it as much as anything."  Today's Independence Day Race in Valdosta was the first 8 Kilometer race he's ever done and he finished in just over an hour.

Over a hundred people participated in the race with Mizell, including race winner Dave Berlacki.  A retired Air Force veteran, Berlacki felt proud to run a race where all proceeds go toward local veteran causes.

"It makes me feel pretty good, especially for the amount of people who came out to support everyone, so it's good for everyone involved, especially the veterans," said Berlacki.

Berlacki and Mizell will both participate in next year's race.   Mizell hopes it will help him train to reach his racing goals.  "I'm looking into racing wheelchairs now. My future goal is to go to the Peachtree Road Race, because I know there're hundreds of wheelchairs up there," added Mizell.

The Independence Day race is the largest of its kind in Valdosta.  Race sponsors hope it will only grow in popularity in the next couple of years.

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