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Gotta’ Run: Pauley-Brown wins Yadkin Valley Conference and Winter Flight news

At just 14, Emberleigh Pauley-Brown has surprised everyone with her cross country success as a high school freshman. She’s been a fixture in local races, often with top finishes, and has a few wins against some of the area’s fastest women.

Father Jeff Brown, who coaches middle school cross country at Gray Stone Day School, coached his daughter the previous two years as the middle school conference champion while undefeated as an eighth-grader. Jeff said, “Emberleighs’ high school goals were to use freshman year to just get experience competing at that level. Then our hope was for her to build up to super great results during her junior and senior years as a springboard to college. What has actually happened during her freshman year so far has just been amazing. Emberleigh is undefeated thus far and is the Yadkin Valley Conference champion. She set a new course 5K record at South Davidson of 20 minutes and 5 seconds. Gray Stone won the conference team championship as well.”

Looking ahead to regionals and state finals, Emberleigh’s goals are past just “gaining experience.” She knows the competition will be tougher but remains super self-motivated and a fierce competitor while always running for the win.

Emberleigh said, “When I was little, we did 5Ks as a family. Mom carried me at first and then I wanted to run myself when I turned 8.”

As a member of the YMCA Warriors in Salisbury, Emberleigh learned about regular training. She said, “When I train, I feel free and it allows me to de-stress. I know that all this hard work will pay off. Racing allows me to push myself to new limits. And I love running races that help inspire other young girls and make a difference in the world around me.”

Emberleigh continued, “Winning our conference was amazing as a freshman while being undefeated and setting a course record along the way was all just like a dream. Heading into regionals and state, I am training even harder and I am enjoying this whole experience one step at a time.”

I asked about goals with this fast start on Emberleigh’s high school running career. She said, “My short-term goal is to run 19:30 for a 5K. My long-term goal is to compete in the Olympic Marathon and in the 5-star world marathons in London, Boston, Tokyo, Chicago and New York.”

And finally, Emberleigh summed it all up, “Running means freedom and relaxation. I love being really fit, inspiring others to be healthier, supporting great causes. I get to meet and run alongside amazing people.” Her regional championship will be contested at Salisbury Community Park on Jan. 16.

In other big news locally, the 2021 New Sarum Brewing 38th Annual Winter Flight 8K, 5K and Fun Run is moving to the Millbridge/Mt. Ulla area, near Sloan Park. The City of Salisbury decided not to support the 2021 event, one of the largest, oldest and best-known races in the southeast. Jan. 17, 2021, is the race date, and this year all the courses will be headquartered at the Millbridge Ruritan building at 490 Sloan Road. The fun run kicks off the event at 1:30 p.m. and the 8K, 5K, and wheelchair event will all take off at 2 p.m.

The area is known for beautiful farmland and rolling hills, but both the 8K and 5K will have long flat stretches as well. This is a low traffic area and course safety will be provided by the Locke and West Rowan Fire Departments. Meredith Abramson’s famous hoodies will go to all 8K and 5K participants. Walkers are encouraged in the 5K. All races will be timed and will follow any current COVID guidelines. Amazing awards from the Trophy House and lots of refreshments add to the day, while all proceeds go Rowan Helping Ministries.

More info is available on the Jan. 1 Resolution 5K and Jan. 17 Winter Flight at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org .

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