Runners of all sizes race to China Grove
By David Freeze
The streets came alive on Friday night in China Grove when over 475 running participants came to town. Along with them were several thousand spectators who enjoyed the wonderful weather and festival atmosphere. The J. Fred Corriher YMCA presented a Tot Trot for children 4 and under, the Subway Sprint Fun Run for kids ages 5 to 13, and the 12th Annual China Grove Main Street Challenge 5K for everyone else.
Threatened showers bypassed the downtown area as runners from Tennessee and both Carolinas came to run one of the fastest growing footraces in piedmont North Carolina.
Major sponsors for the event include Dick’s Sporting Goods, China Grove Subway, The South Rowan YMCA Service Club, The Salisbury Rowan Runners Club, and the Town of China Grove. Proceeds go to the Rowan County YMCA Invest in Youth programs which support children who could not participate in the YMCA without events and individuals who support this cause.
Event Director Aaron Crowe said, ‘We try to provide a quality race that is for the runners and also showcases our community. We want to improve every year, and our volunteers and sponsors go the extra mile to do just that. China Grove really gets behind the event, and Police, Fire and Public Works employees are our partners. We will start working tomorrow on making the 2010 event even better.”
Crowe projects that the proceeds will exceed $10,000.
Mayor Don Bringle welcomed the runners at the start of the 5K and said “What a wonderful turnout!”
He joined spectators at popular spots along the course, many of whom enjoyed the event in lawn chairs, as they watched wave after wave of competitors leave the start in twilight, traverse the course under streetlights and return to the finish line brightly illuminated by towers of industrial lights.
American flags along the course, Lugnut from Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the Kannapolis Intimidator mascot, lots of food, a DJ’s music, and a fitness expo kept all on hand in the festive mood that only an outdoor nighttime event can provide.
Steve Staley brought his wife and three kids from Charlotte and each one came away with an award.
Steve said the small-town atmosphere and big-time organization will keep him coming back each year. He projects this race has the potential to grow each year.
Staley said he loves that the race runs out and back on Main Street and that every year trains go by while the race is in progress. He said he hasn’t been able to keep up with them yet.
Ike Bernhardt, 44, of China Grove used to run regularly, but had given it up for about 5 years. His wife, Robin, has become an avid runner and she talked her husband into coming out to do the event again.
“I just hope he doesn’t beat me, but I am really glad that he is running again,”Robin said. She beat her husband by about 4 minutes, though it seems like the challenge has been given.
Ryan Woods of Boone came within 10 seconds of a new course record with a time of 14 minutes and 48 seconds. He hopes to keep training hard even though he is opening his own chiropractic practice soon.
Amber Moran of Arden won the women’s race with a 17:39 clocking. Complete results for the event can be found at www.salisburyrowanrunners. com.