Run for Brighter Days 5K (23:27)

On Saturday, I ran the Brighter Days 5K, a trail run at Dargan Farms in Darlington, SC. It’s one of my favorite races, and I ran it in 2012 and 2016.


The race director, Lynn Bullock, organizes the Run for Brighter Days in memory of her son, Jonathan, who committed suicide. This cause means a lot to me because my family has been touched by suicide. One night last week, my friend Melissa heard gunshots in her neighborhood, then found out the next day that a neighbor committed suicide.

Often, the topic of suicide is not discussed, but chances are you know someone who’s been affected- and that’s why races like this are important.

Proceeds benefit the Jonathan C. Smith foundation, which provides assistance for depressed teens in group homes. When the teens come into the inpatient program, they receive bedding and other items they need.

This race also raises awareness for organ donation. Lorcan Lucey, who runs many Charleston races, received Jonathan’s lungs, and runs this race each year. Jonathan’s spirit lives on at this race, every race Lorcan runs, and every Charleston-area race sponsored by Lucey Mortgage Corporation.

After driving from my parents’ house, I arrived at the race around 7:15 for the 8 AM start. I picked up my packet, went to the potty, talked to the volunteers and organizers a bit, then set out on the course to warm up. This year’s course was new because the race was moved due to October’s flooding. This course was harder than previous years with more gravel instead of sandy dirt roads, the sun was bright, and the humidity was high.

I knew it would be a hard run, but I have a 100% success rate at surviving hard runs, so it was okay.


The start was delayed until 8:15 to give everyone time to get to the race, and once we lined up, the race director, Lynn, spoke about the charity and about Jonathan. This way, we could all remember Jonathan and the cause while we ran.

Everyone posed for some pictures (no one wanted to stand on the line!) and we were off.


The first mile took us on a loop around the farm on a rocky dirt road. After about 100 meters, I found myself in 4th overall and stayed there the entire race. The runners ahead of me- Jonathan, Liz, and Jarrett-  were running underneath those shady trees in a line. Sometimes shade > tangents.

This was my first trail race since my peroneal tendon injury, and I thought about my ankle A LOT. The left foot still doesn’t feel as strong as the right foot, but I can generally ignore it on the road. My main goal was not to twist my ankle! I don’t usually run trail 5Ks, so I had no time goals.

My first mile (7:13) was pretty close to where I was in the Publix Savannah Women’s 5K. This was definitely a harder course on the trails, and it was a much hotter day. The lady ahead of me, Liz, grabbed water at the water stop and took a few steps, but never let up on the pace.

We passed by the finish line arch, but had another 10-11 minutes to race. I hit mile 2 in 7:18.


After mile 2, the race got tougher. We ran through an open grassy field, then ran through some other trails in the woods. I accepted that I was slowing down- and I was at peace with that because I was giving the best I could on this day and in these conditions.

When it’s all said and done, the teens who benefit from my entry fee don’t care how fast or slow I run. They only care that runners show up, enter charity races, and support them.

Coming out of the woods, we ran through another long stretch of grass in mile 3 (7:49). My quads were feeling Thursday night’s BodyPump workout and hating me. I saw the finish line at this point but knew it was far away.

I tried to focus and think about Jonathan, Lorcan, and my cousin Norman who I was running for. I even had their names on my back.


We crossed the highway then hit the dirt road to sprint to the finish. I crossed the finish in 23:27, for fourth overall and second female.

After finishing, I congratulated Liz on the win, cheered for some other finishers, then ran a cooldown before the post-race festivities. This race has the BEST food each year, with delicious strawberries. How many races offer refreshments that were grown on the course? After the race, you could pick strawberries to take home.


I also chatted with four of my coworkers who ran. My company, ACS Technologies, sponsors the Run for Brighter Days each year, and as a remote employee, I love seeing my coworkers out at races. Several of us ACSers won awards and did a great job representing the company.



For placing, I received a beautiful medal, which I wore all day and plan to hang on my Christmas tree this December. Each year, this race is my way of remembering my cousin Norman and honoring Lorcan, who contributes so much to the Charleston area runners. It’s always great to run for meaningful causes, and hopefully my days on the injury list are done!


Race Name: Run for Brighter Days 5K

Location: Darlington, SC

Date and Time: April 29, 2017, 8 AM

Entry fee: $25-30

Course: Trail- dirt roads with gravel and rocks, some grass. Flat.

Swag: T-shirt, cinch backpack, cup

Post-race Food: Arby’s sandwiches, orange slices, bananas, strawberries, popcorn, sno-cones, water

Weather: 73 degrees, 94% humidity, 6 mph wind.

This entry was posted in 5Ks, Florence SC, Race Recaps, Race Reviews, Trail running and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Run for Brighter Days 5K (23:27)

  1. wanderwolf says:

    Looks like a great race for a powerful cause. And the fact that those strawberries grew on the course? A reason to run the race in itself. 🙂 nice job in those conditions!

  2. I know I keep saying this but MAN OH MAN you guys have the best post-race foods! Congrats on a great race, and I love the purpose of it. Awesome.

  3. laurenweiner says:

    Such a great race for a great cause. Those strawberries look AMAZING.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      They were! You can’t beat food grown on the farm- so much better than what I could buy in a store. This was literally “farm to table”- from the farm fields just a few feet away, to the picnics tables where we ate them.

  4. it always feels good to run and finish a race near and dear to the heart. So glad you could support Jonathan’s cause and see Lorcan running with Jonathan’s lungs. 🙂🙂 and the post race strawberries look so delicious!!!

  5. supereli23 says:

    Sounds like a race for an excellent cause. Trail races are always harder on your ankles, legs, etc and I know I always feel them more after! A definite challenge and test for your ankle!

  6. sarahdudek80 says:

    Congratulations on a great race. You are making quite the comeback! What a beautiful cause for a race. I have lost a few friends to suicide. It is difficult for so many people and appreciate bringing awareness to this. If only I could finish a run with those beautiful berries waiting for me!

  7. sweatingawesome says:

    I love that the person who received Jonathan’s lungs runs this race every year. What a beautiful and powerful thing to do. This is a great cause. My family was affected by a suicide only 2 weeks ago so your post comes at a perfect time. Thank you for spreading awareness because mental health and suicide are definitely not talked about enough.

    • Amy Lauren says:

      Christa, I’m really sorry to hear about your family’s loss. You are right that suicide is not discussed, because it is such a tough topic. But your loss, Melissa’s neighbor, my cousin, and Jonathan are why we need to talk about it. Not talking about suicide and depression does not make it go away.

      Thank you for responding, and I’ll be thinking of you and your family and friends during this difficult time.

  8. Seemed like it was a great race for a good cause and to honor some of your loved ones. I enjoyed the peeps sign, goats, and the post race strawberries! Congrats on second place 🙂

  9. Elizabeth C. says:

    I think raising awareness for suicide/suicide prevention is really important. It sounds like this was truly a race “to experience” with it being on a different terrain and it being sponsored by your company. And you won an award to boot! I’m really enjoying seeing you return to running and enjoying these races.

  10. Those strawberries look perfect! I don’t think I’ve ever seen them at a race before! I really hate a 5k but I love all the great causes they support! Congratulations to you Amy!

    • Amy Lauren says:

      This race always has strawberries and they are so good. I think that’s the good thing about doing a race on a farm.

      I like 5Ks- I’m terrible at them because I have zero speed, but they serve as a good workout for half marathons.

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