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Moved by God’s word

Pastor finds spiritual outlet in urge to run

POSTED: December 17, 2010 11:30 p.m.
/For The Times

Westside Baptist Church pastor Mike Taylor running one of the nearly 90 marathons he has participated in this year. Taylor says his biggest motivation is God.

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Spiritual, personal and physical motivations are what inspired the Rev. Mike Taylor to run almost 90 races so far in 2010.

And he hopes that others will take from his running achievement, get involved and start moving - whether running or just walking - in 2011.

"When you really break it down into the core of the spiritual part, I look all the way back to the book of Genesis in chapter 1:26-27," said the pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Gainesville. "I think some people hunt, fish or climb mountains. Why do they do stuff like that? Well, why do I run? To engage in the environment that God put us in."

Taylor committed to running back in 2007. Also about that time, he joined the Lanier Running Club and has been running ever since.

"I played with it off and on, but really I started running timed races back in 2007," he said. "I ran the Peachtree for the first time and that was such a rush. I thought ‘man I gotta do this again and be prepared for it,' so that was my first timed race."

One of his first motivations to run was the physical benefits that running would bring to his life.

"Actually there were several layers of motivations, one of them was physical," he said. "I didn't want to lose weight, I wanted to stay off the blood pressure medicine. And that rush you get when you finish, the satisfaction."

If Taylor stays on his current track, he will run his 90th race of 2010 on New Year's Eve. The 90 races, or 300 miles, are part of a running competition that Taylor has participated in all year with the Georgia Run and See Grand Prix .

Taylor runs in anything from a 5K to 11K. His fastest time this year was at a 5K in Walnut Grove, where he ran each mile at a pace of 8:08 minutes.

"You are competing against your peers. One of the real pluses about it (the Georgia Run and See Grand Prix) is you don't have to be the fastest runner. I'm ranked third in the state, but you can compensate for your lack of speed by running lots of races , which is what I've done," Taylor said.

"My goal was 80, and I got through the end of August and I had done 50 in eight months. If I was going to do 80, I was going to have to step on it. So my wife's birthday, Sept. 12, I ran my 50th race. From Sept. 12 to the end of this year I will have done 40 races in four months; I really packed them in."

But all those races didn't come without some physical hardships.

"I take arthritis medicine and a lot of Motrin," said Taylor, who has participated in multiple races in one day, and once, five races in one weekend.

"The deal is, it's going to hurt and you have to run through the hurt."

And the 5Ks are all for a good cause, Taylor added.

"Most races cost anywhere from $15 to $20 or $25, and pastors don't get any breaks," he said. "Part of the motivation is that they are charities and they are trying to raise money for their cause. So it does become expensive in several areas with the race fees, driving all over Northeast Georgia. And it's expensive as far as time."

Taylor currently is helping plan four local 5Ks for 2011; one at Lakeview Academy, one through the Chattahoochee Baptist Association, the Hall County Sheriff's Office and with the Lanier Running Club.

He said that anyone can start running and get moving with just a little determination and a few lifestyle changes.

"I would advise anybody to consult with their doctor about any dietary changes ... For me, what works is cutting out the sugar and cutting out white wheat," he said. "When you get to this number of races, you are making a lifestyle change and making a commitment."

Although Taylor plans to slow down in 2011. Well, just a little bit.

"The challenge for 2011 is going to be to learn some moderation, because anything I do I get into it and do it 100 percent, 110 percent," he said.

"So I'm going to have to back off a little bit financially, time wise and because of the wear and tear on my body. I don't think I could do another 80 or 90 races next year, but I can do between 50 and 60."



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