This past weekend was the 4th running of the Clermont Clay 15k and 5k.

Over 800 athletes signed up to take part in one of the two races. The 15k had 519 finishers while the 5k had 163 finishers. Over half the runners had never run on the course before and over 80% drove in from outside Lake County to participate.

Participants enjoyed a beautiful cool day, where volunteers and local businesses came together to raise funds for the future of endurance venues in South Lake County.

The 15k is a unique race because the participants run on a dirt road that is widely known by many names such as, ‘the loop’, ‘the orange grove trail’, ‘the clay road’, and ’10 mile clay loop’. ’10 Mile Clay Loop’ has a Facebook page with over 5200 followers and has been featured in Runner’s World and other national publications.  The loop consists of North Bradshaw Road, 5 Mile Road, and Schofield Road.

Over the years this road has been run on by multiple Olympians, beginner runners, marathon runners, triathletes, cross country teams from across the country, etc.  But it won’t be a complete 9.8-mile loop for long.  The development of Wellness Way will end the use of Schofield as a hilly, soft surface running route.

Each year this race has highlighted this beautiful, unique place to run.  And with the impending end to the loop, the group that has built the race to its largest amount of registrants has a large audience watching and hoping to be shown a new running area that will rival or be better than the Clay Trail. The proceeds of each race have been saved for such a task.

Curtis Henderson, a Clermont resident and endurance enthusiast, was the first voice of the Clay Trail awareness and was the race director for the first two years of the race.  He, along with Kimberly and Kevin Grogan, owners of Gear for Multisport endurance store, have formed a not for profit, South Lake Multisport Events (SLME).

SLME has produced the last two years of races with Kimberly at the helm. Together with the active endurance community in Central Florida they are planning to work on enhancing and publicizing the existing trails in Lake Louisa State Park, Ferndale Preserve, the Apopka Wildlife trails and the upcoming trails that will be within Wellness Way. While another race around the loop is not likely to ever happen again, there will be a continued campaign to show that Central Florida has beautiful, unique places to run.