Gotta Run: Beginning runner’s class, Winter Flight and Rowan’s marathon man

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 10, 2016

With a dose of cold air and harsh wind this week, winter running has returned. I’m sure glad that we don’t live up north where there is much rougher weather. Still, as regular runners know, we can beat the cold weather by dressing correctly. Remember that running adds about 20 degrees to the outside temperature perception so you will warm up quickly even on a cold day.

This is the last call for the first Beginning Runners Class of the year, held this time at First Methodist Church in Salisbury, that begins on Monday, Jan. 11, at 5:45 p.m. There is plenty of information at or feel free to call 704-310-6741 and 704-202-6601. Make that resolution to get your exercise in a fun way. We start with just a half-mile of running and walking.

Just a few more words on my sciatic nerve issue that still lingers. Jeter Chiropractic and Fowler Physical Therapy are at work on it now. I will address the benefits of using both groups once this thing is in the past. As injuries go, this isn’t a big one, but missing just one day of running is more than I can stand and exercise is lacking until the issue is all done.

For much of this month, local runners will be preparing for our oldest and most well-known race, the Novant Health Winter Flight 8K. What makes this race so special is that runners from around the Southeast recognize it as one of the best. So does the premier running publication available, the Running Journal. Once again, Winter Flight is on the Running Journal Grand Prix, hailed by longtime competitive runners as the best series in the Southeast. Several area runners did well over the years in this series. One that could have was Ed Frye.

Frye happens to be regarded as one of the best runners to ever hit the pavement in this area. Known locally as a versatile and consistent runner, and the best running shoe expert, Frye got his start after reading about marathoners in 1978. He began, just as many of us have, by going out and running a mile. Just a single mile! Frye fell in love with the sport. He said, “I figured I would try a little bit of this running thing myself. Right away, I loved the fitness and mental/physical benefits that I got from it.”

Along the way, Frye ran the incredible number of 80 marathons. That is by far the most by any Rowan County runner, well ahead of the 24 that is in second place. But unlike the majority of the runners who have huge numbers of marathons, Frye put the pedal down to have some spectacular times. His personal best was a 2 hour, 42 minute and 15 second time in the 1981 Boston Marathon. Other top performances were the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC at 2:44, the Greensboro Marathon in 2:46 and the Charlotte Observer Marathon in 2:47. Both the Greensboro and Charlotte marathons covered especially challenging courses.

One of those fast times has an interesting story. A heavy training schedule of 54 miles in four training days was going well, when one of Frye’s friends asked him if he wanted to go run the 1981 Carolina Marathon in Columbia in a couple of days. Frye said, “Yep!” and off he went to run a 2:49 marathon against the normal training practice of taking it easy in the last week prior to the event.

Frye has found additional success when competing in triathlons. An avid cyclist who has become a very good swimmer, Frye combined his running skills to complete five Ironman Triathlons and 13 Half-Ironmans. Amazing to me is the willingness to complete the Ironman distance of 2.4 miles of open water swimming, 112 miles of biking and then close out with a marathon (26.2 miles), all back to back to back. Only a small handful of Rowan County athletes have challenged this distance, with Frye having completed the most Ironmans.

Known to many of the longtime runners and walkers in the area for his knowledge of running shoes, I was one of a large group who bought their shoes from Frye for years. He managed the Athlete’s Foot store in the old Salisbury Mall and worked for Phidippides in the Carolina Mall beside owner and longtime friend, Keith Alley. In my case, if Ed Frye said, “Try this shoe. I think you will like it,” that was all I needed to hear. Usually he made sure that his regular customers were posted on the changes in favorite models and especially if one of those favorites was closing out.

Frye, when not running, cycling or swimming, enjoys messing with computers and tech gadgets. He also enjoys collecting things and reading, especially in the outdoors. Frye works at the South Rowan YMCA.

With plans for 2016 that include several more triathlons and a 3.5-mile open water swim, Frye is still recovering from a car versus bike accident last year. He said, “I will just stick with the same swim/bike/run mix to stay healthy. I thank God for giving me the desire that it took to make all of this happen.”

Ed Frye is the “Rowan County Marathon Man!”

See you next week! Wear those layers to stay warm on the roads.


David Freeze is a nationally certified running coach and president of the Salisbury Rowan Runners. Contact him at Learn more at