Working with the Washington, D.C., legal community, the Lawyers Have Heart 10K is just one way the American Heart Association is working to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease.

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For two decades the legal community in Washington, D.C., and the American Heart Association have teamed up to raise awareness of stroke and heart disease through the Lawyers Have Heart 10K. This road race, which is open to runners and walkers at all levels, has become a favorite among the D.C.-area running community and one of the largest events in the area. In 2010 it attracted more than 6,500 participants to the course that runs along the Potomac River through historic Georgetown [source: Hoveyda].

Washington lawyers and running enthusiasts Richard Frank and Alan Raul founded the race in 1991, and in that time it has helped raise more than $5 million for the American Heart Association [source: LHH]. The event has become popular partly due to the festive postrace atmosphere highlighted by the Finish Line Festival, a celebration that includes food, drinks, live music, prizes and an awards ceremony.

But runners don't just show up on race day and line up at the starting line. Fundraising plays a big part of participation and just as awards are given to the fastest runners in each class, there are also incentives for raising the most money. The Law School Challenge taps into the competitive spirit by pitting area law schools against one another to see which institution can score the most points through raising money, registering participants and volunteering. The winning school receives a plaque, along with a prize package that may include lunch with a local legal hotshot or vacation packages.

And of course the Lawyers Have Heart 10K isn't just for lawyers. The event is open to anyone interested and draws athletes ranging from elite pros to couch potatoes. Many of them do come from the legal community in and around the Washington area, including public and private firms, law students and administrators.

In the next section we'll discuss the Lawyers Have Heart 10K route and why it's become a must for area runners to work into their race schedule.