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Jump start year with race or plunge
Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Lanier Olympic Center on Jan. 1
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The Edmondson-Telford Center for Children is giving locals the chance to start on their New Year’s resolutions immediately as it hosts the Embrace 2014 5K race, benefitting victims of child abuse. After the race, runners can cool off with a jump in the frigid waters of Lake Lanier at 17th annual Polar Bear Plunge at the Lake Lanier Olympic Center on Clarks Bridge Road.

The race begins at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 1 at Candler Fields in Gainesville for a cost of $30. All proceeds help the center, which assists abused children in Hall and Dawson counties.

“We hope the community will come out and support this worthy cause, which combines the good feeling of knowing you’re helping abused children in our community with the vigor of starting 2014 off in a spirit of wellness and accomplishment,” said Heather Hayes, executive director of the Edmondson-Telford Center.

All participants will receive warm pretzels from Mellow Mushroom at the finish line. Awards will be given to the top overall male and female, top male and female in the 50-and-older category, and first and second place in the 12-and-younger, 13-16-year-old, 17-25-year-old, 26-40-year-old and 41-49-year-old age groups.

Entry forms are available online at or at the Edmondson-Telford Center. For information, call 770-534-5151 or contact Runners Fit Race Works at 770-561-1050 or

Once participants cross the finish line and have a fresh pretzel, they can prepare to splash into the new year at the Polar Bear Plunge.

The event supports Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s Olympic legacy program, which helps train paddlers for a chance to compete in summer Olympics.

“Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club was started the second year after the Olympics,” event director Chris Potter said. “It’s totally a club sport, so all of the funding is from donations and parent support, and these senior kids have the potential to get into the Olympics.”

The price for the event is $25 for a single jump or $50 for a family jump for up to four people.

Prizes will be awarded throughout the event for best costume, biggest splash, oldest and youngest jumpers and best group jump. T-shirts will also be handed out to the first 150 jumpers.

However, should the cold waters not be appealing, the event also features a free chili cook-off.

“The chili cook-off is something that we started last year,” Potter said. “We always did chili for the jumpers afterwards, but it was just in a big pot. So we had the idea to make it a contest.”

Jumpers can also warm up with a cup of hot chocolate and a dip in some warmer water as well.

“We do have hot tubs coming, so that makes it much more pleasant to get out and warm up,” Potter said.

Last year, the event saw about 100 people take the plunge, despite pouring rain. Potter noted he hopes for better weather this year.

“My goal is to have about 150 people jump this year,” Potter said. “And we have about 10 registered for the chili cook-off.”

Participants can register for a jump or the cook-off online at