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Biggest Loser RunWalk to be held in Charleston during FestivALL

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The organizers of the Biggest Loser RunWalk are hoping to get people out and about for the first ever event of its kind in Charleston.

The popular reality TV show that pits contestants against one another in a battle to lose weight sponsors a race series designed to encourage Americans to get fit and stay active.

The Charleston run/walk race will be during FestivALL in hopes the state's premier arts festival will help attract more people to the event, said Jewel Parelman, director of new business development for the Biggest Loser RunWalk.

The event will be June 29 and will start at Haddad Riverfront Park along Kanawha Boulevard. The race will begin at 9 a.m. and move east on Kanawha Boulevard.

Organizers have scheduled two run/walks, a 5K and a 10K, Parelman said. A one-mile kids run will also be held.

"We think we'll draw about 1,000 to 2,000 people to the event," Parelman said.

This is the first time the Biggest Loser RunWalk has been in the Capital City, she said. It is also the only one in the Mountain State, Parelman added.

The Biggest Loser RunWalk was launched last year to encourage people to get off the couch and get fit, according to a press release from the organization.

The race is geared toward first-time runners as well as those who are experienced, Parelman said.

Two of the NBC show's alumni will be attending this year's event in Charleston. Jackie Evans and her son Dan teamed up to compete in season five of the show.

The two will attend the June event to encourage others to get out and join up. Dan lost 136 pounds during the competition, and his mother lost 90.

The two now travel around the county to help organize the events.

Dan, who is now 26 years old, was 19 when he participated in the show. Dan was 310 pounds when he went on the show.

This weight loss helped Dan become more confident and helped him become more successful in his life's passion -- music.

Dan plays in a country rock band that will perform after the event at Haddad Riverfront Park, he said. 

It would have been easy to fall back into the sedentary life style that led to their weight problems once they left the show, Jackie said.

However, both Jackie and Dan use the run/walks as motivation to keep fit, she said.

"You have to create a purpose to get out and run," Jackie said. "And getting ready for the events is a purpose."

Jackie also pointed out that anyone can participate and those who are a bit older should not use their age as an excuse not to take part in the event. She added that she auditioned for The Biggest Loser when she was 50 years old.

She ran her first half marathon, which is 13 miles, when she was 52 years old. The 55 year old did 11 half marathons two years ago, she said.

Dan also continues to run, he said. He ran 14 half marathons last year, he said. Both credit The Biggest Loser and their active lifestyle with changing their lives.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he is pleased The Biggest Loser is sponsoring an event in the city.

"We see this event as a marvelous opportunity to showcase all the great things about Charleston while we encourage healthier living in our community and beyond," Jones said in a written press release.

"We're thrilled to bring The Biggest Loser RunWalk to Charleston," said Alisa Bailey, chief executive officer and president of the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau in a written release. "The show and the event are an inspiration to millions and its well-known brand will bolster the extraordinary FestivALL line up."

The registration fee for the 5K is $25 and $40 for the 10K. To register children for the one-mile race is $10.

Those wishing to register should do so online at ;

Parelman pointed out that the fees increase as the day of the event approaches.

"So people should register as soon as possible," she said.  

Contact writer Paul Fallon at or 304-348-4817. Follow him at


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