Lawtonians take off for 3Mile Thursday
The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce wants Cameron University’s students and faculty to run.
On Sept. 5, the organization welcomed Lawton citizens to partake in another edition of the 3Mile Thursday. Debra Burch, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, sees the race as a way to improve not only the health of Lawton citizens but also the vigor of the city’s workforce. The event occurs every first Thursday of each month.
An advocate of healthy lifestyles, Burch said the Chamber of Commerce created the event to promote fitness in the community and create a wealth of businesses. She runs on the belief that a strong workforce will only attract more businesses to the Lawton and Fort Sill area.
“3Mile Thursday is an event to encourage people to take up a healthy activity in a social environment in downtown Lawton,” Burch said. “We don’t just want an event once a year; we want something that is ongoing to help people develop a healthy lifestyle.”
Unlike other races or marathons, Burch said 3Mile Thursday presents members of the Lawton community with a chance to run or walk at their own pace. As the race is open to all ages, she said registrants will find a variety of participants.
“It is not a contest. It is not a competition,” Burch said. “You will see strollers. You will see every age group. You will see people that are walking and talking or running and talking. Some are very serious in their efforts to get better.”
Burch said that because the race is free, a person only has to register to enter the 3Mile. While previous enrollments led to some complications, registration can now be done with the simple click of a mouse.
“The easiest way to enter is to go online,” she said. “In fact, as it started, we were taking registrations over the phone for people, but now that we have the online process up, we are walking them through it.”
To lead these races, Burch has contacted local “celebrities” to direct participants on the complex route. Dan Mullins Nissan’s Jacob Johnson led the run. The local celebrity took citizens around a tour of downtown Lawton – one stretching from second to 11th Streets. Participants not only saw glimpses of the local businesses along C Avenue, but also caught sights of historical buildings such as City Hall.
Burch said, “People that can run or walk three miles in the heat are worthy of celebrity. The first one was led by Chief of Police James T. Smith. We often get people who come in and say ‘I want to lead. I want to do this.’ It is exciting to have that kind of enthusiasm.”
Burch recently contacted CU to see if any of its leading officials would be interested in directing the 3Mile. After many discussions, one man has agreed to become a walking leader: President John McArthur.
“He’s going to do it,” she said. “He said he would. He will be a walking leader, so he may have some of his students or staff be the running leaders because it was people from Cameron who developed the route. He told me he would walk in November; however, I still have to confirm that with his scheduler.”
After the race, local businesses offered discounts to participants. Nearby restaurants White Buffalo, Charley’s and Chick-fil-a even provided runners and walkers with free food and drink as long as they had one of the 3Mile wristbands.
Burch hopes the project will only continue to grow and spread the message of having a healthy lifestyle. She sees her event as a way to usher in change for the Lawton community.
“They can run down C Street and see all the merchants there and learn more about their community. We have the wonderful races at Elmer Thomas Park. We have the wonderful sidewalks down Flower Mound Road. The community is truly becoming healthier and walking more. We want to keep the momentum going,” Burch said. “We hope it will just run by itself.”