Gotta Run: Next running events and the Marchinko family

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

Editor’s note: David Freeze’s running column will be on hiatus while he cycles along Route 66 from Santa Monica, Calif. to Chicago. He will be sending dispatches from the road.


As it does in most areas of the South, the racing scene around Rowan concentrates on shorter events and fewer of them during mid-June through August. Currently we have no more events scheduled in June and only two in July. I don’t anticipate any in August at this time.

Here is what we do have: Saturday, July 2, is the Shiloh Mission 5K in Faith. This is a great little race with ties to the Faith Fourth Celebration. It is two loops around the southeast part of town, ending at Shiloh Church. Lots of great door prizes and food afterwards.

Next is one our oldest races, the Run for the Greenway 5K. It starts and finishes at Knox Middle School, using the popular greenway to Eagle Heights course. Only one hill on the course and it is just past the 1-mile mark.

Looks for information on both races at

Earlier this month, the South Rowan YMCA and the Town of China Grove hosted the Main Street Challenge 5K. There are always lots of highly competitive runners here from out of town for this fast out and back course. With that said, I can only remember two local residents who have won the race. Those two guys just happen to be father and son, Bob and Zachary Marchinko. Zach won on this year with a strong second half to pull away from two serious competitors to win in a sparkling time of 15 minutes and 46 seconds.

Zach has been a standout track and cross country runner at Carson High for the last few years and is now headed on to UNC Charlotte to continue his racing. Zach is coached by his dad, who has some fantastic running stats of his own. Mom Wendy is a very good runner, too and rounds out one of Rowan’s premier running families. I love seeing them at races because they are all great to talk with and very humble with their usually exceptional performances, plus they support each other’s running as a family.

Both Bob and Zach started running track in the seventh grade and then got more serious in the ninth grade when they began running cross country. Wendy started running in the ninth grade too, but with a goal of getting better in basketball. Zach has also competed in basketball, as well as baseball and football, but decided to focus on running.

Every member of the family has some highlights worth mentioning. Bob earned a scholarship to Cleveland State, where he was conference runner of the year in cross country. Bob finished at Kent State, where he was the 10K conference runner up. He has been the North Carolina marathon state champion three times and currently holds the Rowan County marathon record at 2:25:02. Bob won the Charlotte Marathon twice and the Myrtle Beach Marathon once. He coaches and teaches in the Rowan County school system.

Wendy has a 5K personal best of 20:40 and half marathon PR of 1:35 at Myrtle Beach. She is a school nurse.

Zach has a huge future after one of the most successful high school careers ever seen in Rowan. He is the county record holder in cross country with a 5K time of 15:22 and in the 3200 meter track distance with a time of 9:18. Zach’s long list of highlights includes being the North Carolina runner up in both distances and lots of county, conference and all-state honors.

Bob said, “I do not believe that you can find a better exercise than running. All you have to do is put on your shoes and go. We all know that running strengthens the heart and legs and helps to burn calories. For me, the other big benefit is stress relief and the release of endorphins is important, too. They make us feel good mentally, which I think makes me a better husband, father, teacher and coach.”

“Running helped me stay strong while serving in the Army as a nurse. Both Bob and I feel like we need to practice what we preach,” said Wendy.

Bob continued, “Running is a lot like life with some ups and downs. As a family, we have had a lot of fun with celebrations after one of us has had a great race. But it also has helped our family bond to strengthen when one of us had to deal with some adversity. Running has made for plenty of interesting family travel. We’ve made great friends, like Robert Miller from China Grove and all the athletes that I have coached over 22 years. There is no question that Zach will stay in touch with his teammates.”

The family has various interests other than running. Zach likes basketball and disc golf. Wendy loves to read and work in the yard. Bob enjoys disc golf and working in the yard, too.

And they all have goals, too. Zach wants to do well in cross country and track as a college freshman and hopefully be all conference and All-American one day. Wendy wants to stay healthy and keep running. Bob wants to raise his fitness level and jump into some races. He also wants to continue using the sport to produce goal-oriented, responsible young men at Carson High.

Good luck to all the Marchinko family as they do a great job representing our sport!


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