Sunset Run becomes championship event

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — In only its second year, the BB&T Sunset Run/Walk 5K has been designated the location of the state championship series.
The race, which will be held on Sept. 2, begins after sunset and coincides with other downtown events and incorporates a Kid’s Fun Run. The money raised from the event benefits the Rowan County United Way.
“The best of the best will participate. We are not limited to people from North Carolina. If they win, they win the North Carolina Championship,” said David Freeze, president of Salisbury Rowan Runners.
The designation is unusual, Freeze said, because most communities that are chosen to be the location for the state championships have races that have been established for five or 10 years.
He credits the success of last year’s race as the reason for the classification.
The Road Runners Club of America, the largest national association of running clubs, running events and runners, approved an application Freeze submitted following last year’s race.
The Salisbury Rowan Runners is one of thousands of members of the Road Runners Club of America. The nationally recognized club, based in Virginia, designates cities for six different distance races including 10K and marathon.
Salisbury is also home of the state 8K championship, a title it has held for about 10 years now. The Winter Flight 8K race that takes place in January is a state championship race.
The course for the 5K state championship race has to be certified, “to make sure it is exactly what we say it is,” Freeze said.
The course is just more than three miles.
Also winners will be honored as masters and grand masters in their categories.
The big part of the designation, Freeze said, is the nationwide publicity and promotion of the race and the community in several running publications.
Freeze said once a city becomes the site for the state championship and holds a well-run event, it has the opportunity to apply again.
Anyone can participate in the Sunset Run/Walk.
“It was a great event, a great night for downtown Salisbury,” said Brian Miller city executive for BB&T in Salisbury.
He said it’s a great event that helps to raise money for the United Way. The race kicks off the United Way fall campaign on the same night as Friday Night Out.
Organizers will again look to sponsors to help underwrite the cost of the event so all the proceeds from registration will go to the United Way.
There were 425 runners last year.
Miller said he hopes the designation will bring more people to Salisbury.
“The more that come, the more we can give to the United Way,” he said.
Betz McKeown, marketing and promotions manager for Downtown Salisbury Inc., said she expects participants to come from around the state and regionally.
“It will bring a whole lot more people to the Salisbury/ Rowan area. It not only benefits our race, but the community at large,” said Jackie Harris, campaign and marketing director for Rowan County United Way.
The event will raise more money so that the United Way can provide more services, and it boosts tourism, Harris said.
When Freeze mentioned the state championship status after last year’s race, Harris said, “We all thought that would be a good idea.”
Harris said the event was made possible largely in part to the many volunteers that helped.
One big change this year is the children’s race will take place first.
The race will still begin on Fisher Street and end near Bank Street.
To volunteer to help during the Sunset Run, contact the Rowan County United Way at 704-633-1802.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.