A Dalton, Ga., man who developed a Christian-based running program for his congregation never thought it would leave the church's four walls.
Today, just a year after its first graduating class, Run for God (www.RunForGod.com) is in more than 30 states and 96 cities.
"I had no idea" it would become so popular so quickly, said Mitchell Hollis, who created the program for Grove Level Baptist Church. "I never saw it where it is today."
The program is a practical guide to running with a primary goal of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The study, originally created with resources from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and other sources, is offered in classes which are part Bible study and part beginner running tips.
The Bible study is based on many of the Apostle Paul's writings, while the running material includes things such as advice about shoes, Christian music for one's mp3 player and race etiquette.
Locally, the first Run for God - Run at the Mill, encompassing both a 5K and a half marathon, will be Saturday at Prater's Mill in Varnell, Ga.
The event, according to Hollis, will include food, music, inflatables and other family activities during Friday's expo at the city of Varnell gym and Saturday's race.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the local and national Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Hollis said the organization also will be behind a 5K race on June 4 during radio station J103's annual JFest at Camp Jordan.
As quickly as Run for God has grown, it's likely to get even bigger with advertising in the May edition of Runner's World, he said.
"That's the thing we're most excited about," Hollis said. "This thing has grown with little or no advertising. [Being in the magazine] is a big investment, and we're trying to get our infrastructure ready. [The magazine's readers] are our target demographic because runners ultimately teach these classes."
From having no tangible goals for the study when he started it, he said his goal now is to introduce it to every church and organization in America.
"God started this," Hollis said, "and we're just trying to hang on to his coattails."