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Runners, walkers flock to annual Butterball 5K

SALISBURY — Runners and walkers alike braved the cold Thursday morning for the Butterball 5K Run/Walk at the Forum fitness center.

Now in its 11th year, the race raises money for Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.

“We raise money for Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and the Terrie Hess House Child House. Over the last 10 years, we’ve raised almost $50,000 for them,” said Rayna Gardener, Forum’s general manager and the race director. “We’re really proud to give our proceeds to that organization.”

Beth Moore McKeithan, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, expressed her appreciation for The Forum and the runners who participated in the Butterball 5K.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the hard work that the staff and volunteers at The Forum of Salisbury put in this week to make the event such a success,” McKeithan said. “Almost 300 runners came out for a good cause this morning. Special thank you to our sponsors that helped make this race possible. Everyone coming together to support each other is really what the holidays are all about. We are thankful.”

Gardener said the Thanksgiving Day race brings out families every year.

“It’s become a tradition for a lot of people and their families,” Gardener said. “They’ll bring their whole families up here, and then they’ll go to grandma’s house and eat turkey. It’s a good way for people to get their metabolism revved up and then go feast.”

Teresa Fallin brought her 15-year-old daughter, Ruby, for their first race. Fallin is a member of The Forum.

“I joined The Forum last year, and I lost some weight trying to get into better shape,” she said. “I saw the signs and thought, ‘Why not try it?’”

Together, they ran and walked the 5K.

“We’re not the running people, but we had fun,” Fallin said. “We ran probably a mile of it. Most of it was a walk. It’s a great event.”

Chris Moore has been participating in the Butterball race for many years. This year, he wore a turkey-themed apron as he ran.

“I like to come out and have fun,” Moore said. “The race doesn’t really matter. It’s grown every year. It gets bigger and bigger every year. It’s a good way to get Thanksgiving kicked off. …. Some years, you’re like, ‘Whatever, I’m going to show up in a costume and have fun.’ We cut up the whole race and laugh and wave.”

Despite the not-so-serious approach, Moore placed second in the men’s 30-34 age group with a time of 24:40.

Gardener said this year’s race was one of the best, citing the warmer weather and the competitive atmosphere.

“The crowd seemed more electric this year — just pumped up and excited,” Gardener said. “I guess the weather plays a big part in that and that determines our numbers. A lot of people wait until the last minute to register, which is stressful to me, but I’m glad to have them. It helps raise money for a good cause.”

A total of 278 walkers and runners participated. They came from six states and the District of Columbia.

To participate in similar Rowan County races, visit salisburyrowanrunners.org.

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