David Freeze: Gotta Run

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sunday’s Winter Flight sponsors and runners help homeless

My favorite event of the year happens on Sunday afternoon. As a participant, volunteer and eventually race director, I have wanted to build an interesting race every year that attracts runners and walkers of all abilities to Salisbury.

This will be our first Winter Flight year as a Runner Friendly Community, a national designation that fewer than 60 cities nationwide have. I hope you’ve noticed those signs near the major entrances to Salisbury. Something just fits when these words are mentioned together; Salisbury, runners and doing good things for the community.

For 37 years, Winter Flight has been one of the best races in the southeast, attracting some amazing athletes. The female course record is still held by a former Olympian, Joan Nesbitt of Chapel Hill. But the races are about all the people who choose to take their own time to run or walk in Salisbury to help support those of our neighbors who need it most.

The historic 8K course is challenging, but I hear every year about those who have done most of the 37 events. Just last year, we had participants from Hawaii, California and five more states. None of them had a chance to win either the 8K or the 5K, but they came for the experience and the final result of supporting the homeless.

Last year, Winter Flight’s three events raised a record $12,000 for Rowan Helping Ministries. Our goal from day one of planning was to top that total with Sunday afternoon’s event.
Careful purchasing, thoughtful best practices, and lots of community partners make me think we can do it. At least 35 community partners, led by title sponsor New Sarum Brewing Company, all help us in the effort.

And lots and lots of runners and walkers from near and far add the final pieces to pull it all together.

Kyna Grubb, Executive Director at Rowan Helping Ministries said, “Winter Flight is an opportunity for a generous and compassionate community rallying together to ensure those who are hungry, homeless, or hurting are not forgotten. The success of this event makes it possible for many of our most fragile citizens to have a safe space to rest, with a roof over their head and the resources needed to overcome challenging obstacles in their life and find stable housing. The Salisbury Rowan Runners Club is an amazing partner helping to feed our neighbors and ensure families in Rowan County no longer have to wonder where their next meal will come from or make a choice to warm their home or have a nutritious meal. From serving in Jeannie’s Kitchen to hosting races, Salisbury Rowan Runners Club demonstrates concern backed by action for our community’s health and happiness.”

Bottom line, if you enjoy some time outside, want to test yourself with exercise and just enjoy helping a good cause for a reasonable fee, Kyna and I would love to see you join us at Catawba College’s Goodman Gymnasium to sign up for one of three races. If you don’t want to run or walk, just come out and support those who do. The 8K is open to runners of all abilities. The 5K Health Run and Walk is open to anyone. The course is much easier with only one real hill. Finally, the half-mile fun run is open to anyone of any age or ability and it is held on the Shuford Stadium track.

Registration is available at www.runsignup through Saturday night, at the City Park Recreation building on Saturday evening from 6-8 p.m. and at Catawba’s Goodman Gym from noon to 2 p.m. More information is available at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org or 704-310-6741.

Every 5K and 8K participant gets an incredible commemorative hoodie and a chance at some awesome awards. But better yet is the chance to know that you and a bunch of your friends and neighbors contributed to something much bigger.

I can’t wait to see you at Catawba on Sunday.

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