This summer, the Bear Claw Classic (BCC) Trail Run for Freedom returns on National Black Bear Day, June 1, to unite our community in support of the incredible individuals and organizations committed to sheltering, counseling, and empowering women impacted by gender violence and sexual abuse.

Now in its second year, the BCC is poised to triple in both size and impact in 2019 — raising more support than ever for programs that help restore freedom and dignity to victims of abuse locally and in one of the world’s most prominent human trafficking hubs.

“Last year we raised enough support to provide a month’s worth of shelter, counseling, and empowerment services for a survivor,” said 2018 organizer and Fit For Hope representative, Jake Vermillion. “This year, we would love to see the Bear Claw have even more impact. That’s why we’re accepting donations, giving a portion of sponsor contributions back to the cause, and ensuring at least 80 percent of event proceeds directly benefit this year’s recipient organizations.”

With three distances on offer, registrants can earn their course-specific finisher’s shirt for tackling the Honeysuckle 6k (3.7 miles), Blackberry 9k (5.6 miles), or Sassafras 17k (10.6 miles). Finishers will also receive a complimentary swag bag featuring coupons, promo codes, and more from local businesses supporting the cause.

Having featured Grayton Beach State Park’s Flatwoods Trail and the Western Lake Loop in 2018, this year the BCC will showcase Point Washington State Forest’s Eastern Lake Trail network, which spans some of South Walton’s best-preserved natural landscape.

The 2019 Race Director and Fit For Hope Ambassador, Aaron Haugan said, “Picking the Eastern Lake Trail was a simple decision because no matter what distance participants choose to run, everyone at this year’s Bear Claw will get to experience epic single track. This is truly a beautiful area to run. I just know everyone's expectations will be well met.”

Registration for the Second Annual Bear Claw Classic Trail Run For Freedom is open through May 28, but has been limited to 120 participants. For complete details or to register, visit

The Bear Claw Classic is an event organized by Fit For Hope, a community of active and aspiring athletes committed to leveraging their fitness for good. With monthly challenges, virtual races, and in-person events like the Bear Claw Classic, there's a way for anyone to use their fitness to give back through Fit For Hope. Learn more and get involved at