One of the top New Year resolutions every year is to be more active. There are many different ways to accomplish this goal, but, if walking or running more is on your to-do list, there is no greater motivation than signing up for a race. There is no better race than the Annual Independence Park Trot 5K Run/Walk. This is the sixth year the IHD has organized this event, and each year it gets bigger and better. Registration for the Annual Independence Park Trot 5K Run/Walk is now open, and you can register online at

Not only does the Annual Park Trot allow you to run or walk through one of Independence’s most beautiful parks, it is also family-friendly and open to participants of all ages and fitness levels. Whether you’re an avid runner, a first-time 5K participant, walking alone or with a big group of friends or family, the Independence Park Trot is a great way to start or continue an active lifestyle.

Another plus… It’s free!

This year’s event will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, May 6, 2017, at Waterfall Park, 4501 S. Bass Pro Drive. Chip-timing will be offered to all participants who register online by Sunday, April 23. IHD and Centerpoint Medical Center, the 2017 official race sponsor, provide this race free of charge, so everyone has an opportunity to participate. The Park Trot is held rain or shine. In-person registration (no chip timing) and packet and t-shirt pickup will be held from 3-7 p.m. Friday, May 5 at Bass Pro Shops, 18001 Bass Pro Drive, and from 7-7:40 a.m. in the Mardel parking lot on Saturday, May 6. A parent or legal guardian must sign a waiver for anyone under age 18 participating in the race. Adult and child sized t-shirts will be available for $10 through the Park Trot website until April 16. At this year’s Park Trot, not only can you explore Waterfall Park, but everyone is encouraged to hang around after the race and watch the Park Trot Kids Dash, a free, fun-run for children 10 and younger, which will be held immediately following the 5K.

Training for and participating in a 5K, whether walking or running, is a great means of becoming more active. 5Ks are one of the most popular races out there, and here are several reasons why:

1. It’s for anyone. The beauty of the 5K is that it is doable for people of all ages and running/walking levels. Even if the last time you ran was in high school gym class, this race is a realistic goal.

2. It’s short. With a 5K, race day is a breeze. You arrive at the race, warm up for 10 to 20 minutes, race for about 45 minutes, cool down, and head home before many people’s days have even started.

3. Convenience. Most people are busy, and extra time is precious. Therefore, it can be really tough to find time to train. Not so much with a 5K. Both the distance of the race and the commitment you have to put into training are brief. Working up to just over three miles is relatively easy. You can work up to it by training just three days a week.

4. It lets you go at your own pace. One of the great things about a 5K training program is that you can start with a combination of running and walking and slowly phase out the walking until you’re running the full distance.

5. It’s easy to stay on track. Whether you want to train solo or with a group, there are so many ways to get the job done. There are numerous couch-to-5K programs, including one with the Independence Health Department. The programs last anywhere from four to eight weeks and keep you on track with your goal and within your schedule.

6. It’s a wonderful workout. Running can burn up to 700 calories per hour. You'll raise your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and relieve stress - all while toning and shaping your body.

7. Fitness. Shorter interval workouts are great for weight management and gaining fitness. By making the 5K your focus, your training plan will line up with what's also very beneficial for your overall health.

After the success of last year’s program, IHD will again be offering the free, six-week Couch-to-5K Program. The program will take you from your couch to being able to complete the Independence Park Trot 5K. The program will begin with a kick-off event at Waterfall Park on March 23 at 5:30 p.m. and continue every Thursday at 6 p.m. through April 27 with participants walking or running with Health Department staff. There will be a walking only group and a walk/run group for anyone who would like to challenge themselves. This program is for walkers and runners of all ages and abilities and is free to the community. There will also be weekly prizes for those who show up and participate.

Register for the Independence Park Trot today or join IHD for its Couch-to-5K Program and take a step towards being active in Independence!

Like IHD on Facebook ( to stay updated with all the great programs and activities IHD offers free for the community. For more information about the 2017 Independence Park Trot, or to register for the event, visit or contact IHD at 816-325-7185.


-- Andrew Warlen, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.