by Sean GerskiEditorStow -- Every year, fitness plays a big part in the Stow Pride activities.On the Fourth of July, the Stow Parks and Recreation Department will host the 29th Annual Firecracker Run.The Firecracker Run actually features two separate runs: one for competitive runners (a 4-mile run); and one for those who run for fun (a 2-mile run).Stow Parks and Recreation Director Nick Wren said he anticipates "200 to 400 runners will come out" to take part in the runs."The amount of runners is always weather-dependent, but we hope it's up from previous years," he said.According to Wren, the 4-mile course will begin at the Holy Family School on Route 59. The runners will cross the starting line at 7:30 a.m. "It's a somewhat flat course," he said. "It's marked out, and police cruisers and a race director will lead the runners around the course." At the end of the race, many participants will receive awards for their efforts. Trophies will go to the top male and the top female in each of the following age groups: 14 and under; 15 to 19; 20 to 24; 25 to 29; 30 to 34; 35 to 39; 40 to 44; 45 to 49; 50 to 54; and 55 and over."There also will be overall awards for the top three men and the top three women, regardless of age groups," said Wren.At approximately 7:35 a.m., the 2-mile run will begin."After the 4-mile run clears out, we immediately start the 2-mile run," said Wren. "The 2-mile run is a 'fun run.' All finishers get a ribbon and the top male and female runners will get a special award -- probably a trophy."Wren said some residents have told him they have participated in all 28 Firecracker Runs in the past and are planning to run in their 29th this year. He said the race is an important part of Stow Pride."The race promotes good health, community involvement and healthy lifestyles," said Wren. "We're excited to continue to offer this to residents all over Northeast Ohio."To pre-register for either race, call the Parks and Recreation Department at 330-689-5100, go to the Stow Parks building at 5070 Stow Road or go online to www.stow.oh.us. The preregistration cost is $12 and the price for race-day registration is $15. According to Wren, the first 300 people who register will receive a Firecracker Run T-shirt.Preregistration also will take place July 3 in the lower hall of the Holy Family Church from 4 to 7 p.m. Fitness DayFor those who prefer to do their fitness activities indoors, LifeCenter Plus in Hudson will host Pride in Fitness Day June 29 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. According to LifeCenter Plus General Manager Jan Rubins, Stow residents will have free access that day to the 103,000 square-foot facility, which includes: basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts; a rock-climbing wall; a fitness center; a one-ninth of a mile indoor track; two indoor pools; and three outdoor pools.Guests will be able to enjoy a variety of classes and activities, including outdoor heated pools, which have two new water features, a gated children's pool, a 25-meter lap pool, a waterfall and a slide. "People say that being outside at the pool is like being at a resort," Rubins said. "There are extensive plantings, a butterfly garden and even tropical plants."Inside the facility, there are two pools: a 25-meter lap pool and a heated therapy pool."We are happy to open our extensive facilities for Pride in Fitness Day," Rubins said. "We hope to see many Stow residents take advantage of this opportunity."LifeCenter Plus Health and Fitness Center, 5133 Darrow Road in Hudson, is a full-service club. To learn more, go to www.lifecenterplus.com or call 330-655-2377, ext. 120.E-mail: sgerski@recordpub.comPhone: 330-686-3918