When I started covering Columbus nightlife seven years ago, sweaty bodies, club music and high heels dominated the after-hours scene.
The sweaty bodies and club music remain intact. But the high heels have been replaced by running shoes.
Enter the local rise of glow fitness. Maybe you heard about the Oct. 4 Flash Night Run, a fundraiser for the West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition that began at Woodruff Park in Columbus and reportedly attracted thousands of people.
While carrying glow sticks and flaunting neon necklaces, participants traveled through Phenix City and Columbus against a backdrop of flashing lights and DJ music. In many respects, it was a Chattahoochee Valley "first."
If you missed the excitement, don't worry. Sigma Nu Fraternity on Oct. 26 will host Glow-K, "a glow-in-the-dark 5K run" that will be held at Columbus State University. The race, which benefits the Wounded Warrior Project, boasts glow lights and a finish line party with DJ music.
Then, there's the Nov. 9 Light it Up Blue for Autism Night Bike Ride, presented by Ride On Bikes. The nighttime bike ride raises money for the local Autism Learning Center. "Bring your lights, we'll supply the glow sticks," organizers say.
If you need more time to train, mark your calendar for the night of April 18, 2014. That's when the Stroller Strong Moms will present Light Up Columbus for Autism, with the help of Uptown Columbus. The event includes a 1K, 5K and 10K. "Don't miss this chance to light up the night to support Autism Speaks and Uptown Columbus," organizers say.
Too much of a good thing? I don't think so.
Friday's Flash Night Run resurrected memories of Color Me Rad, which came to Columbus in March and attracted about 4,400 people, many of whom were running their first race. Like Color Me Rad, the Flash Night Run wasn't timed and had an atmosphere that seemed less competitive than your traditional road race.
While the Glow-K and Light Up Columbus for Autism are walker-friendly, both upcoming glow races will be timed.
The growing prominence of innovative race concepts seems like a logical next step for Columbus, which the Road Runners Club of America recognized as a Runner Friendly Community. I'd still love to see a zombie run come to town.
The unconventional concepts -- often dubbed "novelty runs" -- are sometimes criticized in the running community, particularly when they're not timed. Purists say the extra frills detract from the sport's true appeal.
Fortunately, our running community is large enough that we don't have to think in terms of "either/or." Let the casual, untimed races be a gateway to a lifetime love of all aspects of running.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at email@example.com or 706-571-8516. Visit ledger-enquirer.com/sonya to read her columns.