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More than $62,000 will be donated to women's health and fitness programs in Billings from money raised during the 29th annual Montana Women's Run held in May.

A record 7,926 women participated in the run, which outpaced last year's fundraising effort by more than $2,000.

Nearly three decades after it began with just 200 registrants, the race is recognized as the largest running event for women in Montana, and one of the largest all-women races in the country. To date, the popular Women's Run has donated more than $500,000 to local organizations.

The money raised from this year's event will be donated to six causes:

YWCA, $34,435

Billings Clinic Foundation, $19,300

Rocky Mountain College Women's Cross-Country Scholarship Program, $3,200

Montana State University Billings Women's Cross-Country Scholarship Program, $3,200

Billings YMCA, $2,000

The YWCA provides services to women through its Gateway House, job-training classes, domestic violence training, day care and other programs that are not otherwise available in the Billings community. They also sponsor educational classes for people of all ages.

“We are just so grateful for this money because without it, we would really struggle,” said Tracy Davidson, executive director of the YWCA.

Billings Clinic's Women's Wellness program, which receives money from the Billings Clinic Foundation, provides health screenings, including free mammograms, pap smears and blood panels, for women who are underinsured or without insurance. More than 300 women are helped each year through this program and more than 1,000 women have received mammograms. About 80 percent of the women served are from Yellowstone County.

Jim Duncan, president of the Billings Clinic Foundation, applauded leadership of the Women's Run for providing aid that transcends the boundaries of individual organizations. Duncan said the Women's Run is also a boost to the economic health of the entire community.

Rocky Mountain College uses the money to award a scholarship to a female in its cross-country program. Rocky has supported the Montana Women's Run for many years by providing space for the events' eight-week Getting Started Clinic and the Kids' Run. Awarding the scholarship to a female runner recognizes the Montana Women's Run's commitment to health and fitness.

The women on the MSU Billings women's cross-country team have served as positive role models to all young people in the community. Academically, the women's team has perennially been named to the NCAA All-Academic team and has had the highest grade-point average in the country.

“This really goes a long way toward helping us build our program,” said Dave Coppock, MSU Billings women's cross-country coach.

The Billings Family YMCA provides health and fitness services and programs to families throughout the Billings community, such as swimming lessons, fitness programs and adult and youth sports, regardless of the ability to pay.

Sponsors of the 2010 Montana Women's Run included Billings Clinic, ExxonMobil, Stockman Bank, The Planet 106.7, and KTVQ TV. Next year's race will be held May 7.

Contact Cindy Uken at cuken@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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Contact Cindy Uken at cuken@billingsgazette.com or 657-1287.

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