David Freeze: Gotta Run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 27, 2016

Closing out 2016 in a big way, plus the evolution of the Santa 5K

Once in a while, you just get the feeling that you couldn’t have been in a better place at a certain time. Such was the case Saturday morning a week ago with the Melinda Weatherford 5K at Knox Middle School. Just eight weeks before, plans were laid to see if we could help a wonderful couple with great hopes of improving Melinda’s quality of life as she battles Multiple Sclerosis. A great success was realized when they received a check for the cost of the treatment that she will receive in California on Nov. 29 and round trip flights too. Now Steve and Melinda Weatherford just need your prayers.

At press time, it looked like the Butterball 5K at the Forum on Thanksgiving morning would set a new record for participation in their seventh annual event. And record participation means record proceeds going to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan. It has become a local tradition to kick off the holidays with a fast 3.1 miles with your friends.

Next comes one of my favorite races that has a story to tell. Back in 1999, we started the Santa Run 5K at the West Rowan YMCA in Cleveland. Cleveland is a very runnable town but the early course was extremely challenging and found the worst hill in town. After a couple of years of climbing that hill, we changed the course to make it quite fast. But the course improvements all went out the window when the lead car led the runners off course and added an extra four tenths of a mile. I’ve been at races where a few runners would be extremely disgruntled when led off course. But nobody seemed to mind this time. After all, it was the Christmas season. Santa was watching, so certainly no one wanted to be recorded on the naughty list that close to the big day.

Best of all, everyone joined together for pancakes afterwards at the Y. In the early days of the event, Santa gave out the awards just before taking the seat of honor at the Cleveland Christmas parade. Hard to beat a good race, pancakes and a very special down home Christmas parade.

A few years later, the YMCA closed and the Santa 5K no longer had a home. But Principal Jamie Durant at West Rowan High School stepped forward and offered his facility so we could continue the race. With special consideration from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department, the race continued for two more years at West. Post-race pancakes were still prepared by the Y staff.

Then came another move to the Millbridge Ruritan building just outside of Sloan Park and a beautiful rural course. So rural, in fact, that it only passes four houses along the scenic route. Runners get to see crops ready for harvest and clean fields and plenty of cows watching at the Hoffner Dairy. The Ruritan building is the perfect setting for a holiday celebration with plenty of friends. Rowan Helping Ministries West is the recipient of the proceeds.

But wait! I almost forgot. Pancakes are back and sausage too! For the first time in years. So come join us on Saturday, December 3rd. It’s all about fun and there is plenty to be had. Just a few years back, runners and walkers enjoyed the most beautiful snowfall that lasted only as long as the race. I have heard the race director, Richard Taylor, has promised to have the same thing this year. How does he know that?

And there is still more. On December 10th at Catawba College, Girls on the Run of Rowan and Iredell will take to the streets as nearly 500 girls and their running buddies celebrate their ability to run a 5K and all they learned about life in 12 weeks of classes.

And last, and by now I am tired, this year’s Resolution Run 5K will be held on Saturday, December 31st at the Forum on South Main Street in Salisbury. Usually held on New Year’s Day, organizers backed it up to Saturday and New Year’s Eve this year. But the reasons for the event are the same. Come celebrate fitness and a bright and healthy outlook on the New Year. For at least a $5 donation and canned goods, participants get a dri-fit shirt and plenty of refreshments. Rowan Helping Ministries gets the donations and canned goods, and everybody wins.

Now with all that, even I am tired. More info at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org


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