Center Co-sponsors Fit Community Run

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2011

Running in April 16th’s inaugural Fit Community 10K was Mike Richards’ birthday present to himself.

He will turn 65 in two weeks. “I used to run a whole lot way back when,” he said.

Richards of Salisbury underwent surgery for a vertebrae fusion about two years ago. “It took me two years to get to this point,” Richards said. He finished the 10K in 74 minutes and 31 seconds. “Real well for an old guy,” he commented

Richards apparently made quite a name for himself in the running community when he was younger. “This guy is the runner extraordinaire,” said Terry Drury of Granite Quarry, who participated in the 5K Walk.

Richards was one of 52 runners who ventured out in Saturday morning’s cold rain and gusty wind to run the 6.2-mile course highlighting the Salisbury Greenway and North Main Neighborhood, including the two new blocks of sidewalks added with a “Fit Community Program” grant from the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund, direct contributions from the city of Salisbury and in-kind contributions from the city’s street division.

The Campaign for Clean Air at the Center for the Environment, located on the Catawba College campus, co-sponsored the Fit Community 10K Run, 5K Walk and Fun Run April 16 with Rowan Regional Medical Center.

The Salisbury Rowan Runners presented the 10K Run, 5K Walk and Fun Run
with the City of Salisbury and Salisbury Parks and Recreation Center for the Environment staff had a display set up in the City Park Building Gym and were on hand to provide information on air quality and ozone levels. The most recent ranking by the American Lung Association rated Rowan County has having the 17th worst ozone pollution for counties in the nation that are monitored.

Ground-level ozone impacts people’s health. It has been linked to asthma, acute respiratory infections, long-term lung damage, lung cancer and heart disease. Children and teens, people over 65, people with existing lung diseases and people who work or exercise outdoors are especially vulnerable to air pollution.

David Freeze, president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners and timer for the event, said the Center did a great job of helping to promote the Fit Community 10K, the first one held in Salisbury in about 15 years. Everything went so well even with the challenging weather conditions, he said, that there is interest in making it an annual event.

Josh Readling of Salisbury, one of 220 members of the Salisbury Rowan Runners, finished first in the 10K with a time of 38 minutes and 45 seconds. Though he has run numerous 5Ks, it was his first 10K.

Aileen Visser of Advance was the first overall female winner in the 10K with a finish time of 51 minutes and 27 seconds. She is a wellness coach at the Davie County YMCA in Mocksville and had just recovered from foot surgery.

Eleven people participated in the 5K Walk, which started five minutes after the 10K.

Thirteen-year-old Chance Brown of Salisbury was the youngest participant in the 10K, completing the course in 46 minutes and 47 seconds. Chance, a student at Erwin Middle School, has been running since participating in several week-long Triathlon camps with Freeze at the Rowan County YMCA.

The two water stops along the course were provided by volunteers for the Rowan County Relay for Life Committee, which was selected to receive the money raised through registration fees. The committee also had a booth in Shelter No. 1.

Janet Gapen, senior planner for the city of Salisbury, said the 10K was part of several initiatives to support running, walking and biking in the community as well as to encourage residents to pursue more active lifestyles. Salisbury has been designated as a Fit Community from 2007-2010 and has applied for the designation again for 2011.

Cheerwine and Apple Ugly provided drinks and food for the participants as they arrived back at City Park Shelter No. 1, where trophies were presented to the top winners and medals to the others. Also contributing to the event were State Employees Credit Union, KKA Architecture, Earth Grain Breads (Sara Lee), Salisbury Academy, Rowan Partnership for Community Health, Sportrax, Whimziggy, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Catawba College.

Freeze said about $2,000 in registration fees was donated to Rowan County Relay for Life, which held its annual Survivor Dinner that evening.

Complete race results are available at