Runners and walkers of all levels are invited to join the Peoria County Bar Association again this year at its 14th annual Strides for Justice 5K Run and 1 mile walk, which begins at 8:00 AM on Saturday, September 25.

“This year marks the 14th anniversary of this community event, and we are working to make it our best ever,” said Mike Fleming, Peoria-based attorney and member of the Peoria County Bar Association’s Fitness Health and Wellness Committee. “We are excited about resuming our usual structure this year, but we are continuing to offer a virtual option for those who may want to participate from afar. Last year, the race had runners from as far as Florida, Baltimore, and the Washington D.C. area.”

Strides for Justice was started by the Peoria County Bar Association in May 2008. The then president of the association, Karen Kendall, created the Fitness, Health and Welfare (FHW) Committee as a standing committee of the association to emphasize health and wellness for lawyers. Mike, who has served on the FHW Committee since its formation said the committee made the decision to sponsor a road race for attorneys as a fitness measure. He said as discussions progressed, the idea of using the race as a fundraiser came up and Prairie State Legal Services became the benefactor of the race proceeds.

“The first race was very unofficial in a lot of ways,” said Mike, who now serves as the unofficial Race Director. “There was no timing, and no official race course. The participants, which were made up of about 30 lawyers and staff from the Prairie State Peoria office, started along the new riverfront trail in Peoria and ran or walked to the north, at whatever distance each wanted to go, and then back. It was much more of a fun run/walk than a race. A gathering was held after the run at the nearby Kelleher’s Pub.”

By the third year, the location of the race moved to Grandview Drive, with its marvelous views of the Illinois River and valley in Peoria Heights. In addition, an official timing system was used to record the race, and age group awards and overall winners were recognized. In addition, an arrangement was made with nearby Oliver’s Pizza, owned then by Attorney Jim Kelly, to host the after-race gathering and awards presentation.

Today, the Strides for Justice is one of the most popular and largest races in the area, with nearly 200 participants in each of the last four years of the actual race. Strides for Justice also has been an official Grand Prix race for the Illinois Valley Striders running club for the last six to seven years.

Most races give out race t-shirts to the participants, and Strides is no exception. New this year, said Mike, is a long sleeve Sport-Tek shirt. He said the race has always provided short sleeve shirts, but in recent years have used a Sport-Tek shirts, which are very popular.

“Strides means a lot to me,” Mike concluded. “It has helped me keep my focus on my own fitness and wellness goals, and allowed me to share that with a lot of other people in the local running and legal communities, as well as to continue my long-time association with Prairie State.”

There is still time to register. Cost is $30 per person now through September 24; and $85 per family of four.

For more information on the race, to register and pay online, click HERE.