The Rev. Jim Aniol, pastor at Cambridge United Methodist Church, is leading a 5k Challenge program to encourage people to “Run for God,” and finish smiling. 

CAMBRIDGE, Ill. — The Rev. Jim Aniol found a way to combine his love for running with his first love of being a pastor.

The pastor at Cambridge United Methodist Church discovered a training program, “Run for God,” by Mitchell Hollis, and he wants to share the enjoyment of what he calls a “healthy, inexpensive hobby” with others.

He will lead a 12-week Bible study, “Run for God’s 5k Challenge,” beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, May 6, at the Cambridge church, 120 West Exchange St.

Fee for the class is $18.69 for the “Run for God” book for people who register by Thursday, April 25. Anyone interested in the class can register for the class up until the first class on May 6, but the cost of the book will increase to $21.99.

Registration is available at http://www.runforgod.com/class/dragoste-training or by calling Aniol at the church at 309-937-2018.

Class members will train to run in the Dragoste 5k on Saturday, Aug. 3, in Cambridge.

Aniol said for many people running a 5k (3.1-mile) race could be “a scary thought."

"What if I can’t finish? What if I come in last? What if and what if? Many people think they can’t run a 5k, and this negative thinking stops them from even taking the first step.”

Aniol, a former marathon and running coach when living in Wisconsin, said he believed that anyone could accomplish the 3.1-mile distance with the right training program, encouragement of a knowledgeable coach and the support of a team of like-minded people.

“When I lived in the Green Bay area, I took a group of 20-plus people through a walk-run program based on the Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method and all of them completed a 5k race 12 weeks after starting the program,” he said. “I knew the program worked because I used it after not running for 15 years. I knew if I could do it, anyone can.”

After restarting his running life with the program, Aniol has gone on to run 27 marathons and countless other distances.

“Everyone starts in the same place, at zero miles run," Aniol said. "It’s up to the person where they want to finish — 5k, 10-mile, or 26.1 mile marathon or beyond.” 

It was as he looked to combine his love of running with his first love of being pastor at Cambridge United Methodist that he found a training program called “Run for God,” by Mitchell Hollis.

“There are so many running and athletic-related verses in the Bible, and I started collecting them and sorting them by category, but I didn’t want to write a book, so after doing some research, I found the ‘Run for God’ program,” he said.

Aniol said the “Run for God’s 5k Challenge” guided running instructors like him and allowed them to combine faith and endurance training in a way that helped take people, even those who had never run, through their first 5k.

“These classes are open to anyone who wants to run a 5k, even if you’ve never run in your life, or attended a church,” he said.

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