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by Malarie Allen, Development Coordinator

Lee Evans has participated in more than 50 races, but he continues to be amazed by the growth of the Race to Remember.

Evans was the overall winner of the 2015 Race to Remember, which serves as the largest annual fundraiser for Hospice of Marshall County – Shepherd’s Cove. The color-optional run attracts hundreds of participants every year, including more than 1,000 in 2015. People of all ages and fitness levels helped raise $82,000 for Hospice of Marshall County in 2015.

Now in its 11th year, Shepherd’s Cove Hospice hopes to raise at least $85,000 with at least 1,100 participants at Saturday’s race, which starts at 9 a.m. Registration opens at 7. Even as a competitive runner, Evans has participated in the Race to Remember four times and said he loves to see so much support for Shepherd’s Cove Hospice.

“The thing I like most about the Hospice 5K is that so many people will support Hospice of Marshall County to come out and donate and run or walk,” Evans said. “I’m not sure about what I would do to make the race better. The race seems to grow every year.”

While many Race to Remember participants walk most of the course just to support the cause and have a good time, it is a chip-timed race on a course certified by the United States Track and Field Association, which makes it perfect for competitive runners like Evans.

Evans has participated in 14 5Ks, 14 10Ks, seven 15Ks, three 10-mile races, 11 half-marathons, and two marathons since 2011. However, Evans said he first began running to “get in shape for tennis.”

“I started running a few 5 and 10Ks, and I was hooked,” he said. “What I like most about racing is you will always get to see how much your training pays off.”

In his first race, the Etowah County Sheriff’s 5K, Evans ran the course in about 22 minutes. Training for that initial race included running three miles every other day.

“My advice for someone that has just started running and wants to start running competitive is to start slow and don’t overdo it on your training or you might get injured,” he said. “A new runner needs to build up mileage for several week s and follow a training plan for whichever kind of race they should want to do.”

Evans’ personal record for a 5K is now 18 minutes. This week, he is preparing for his third marathon with hopes of qualifying for the famed 2017 Boston Marathon. He credits God for the progress he has made, recalling the Bible verse in Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

“I try to do the best that I can, for God be the glory,” he said.

The 2016 Race to Remember is Saturday at Albertville High School. Pre-registration ends Wednesday, but participants can register the morning of the event from 7-8:30 a.m. Visit www.hospicemc5k.com or call 256-891-7724 for more information.