Gotta Run: Luann Fesperman, doing running right

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

Once in a while, a runner comes along who checks all the boxes. By that I mean that she actively runs regularly, volunteers at the races and other events, directs her church’s 5K and gives back to the community. That runner locally is Luann Fesperman, who on top of everything else, owns The Trophy House with her husband Gary, meaning she gets to earn a living working with runners and races.

I asked Luann about how she got started running. She answered, “The first time I can remember running just to be running was in middle school where I was on the track team. I ran short distances and really never thought I would run more than the 400 meter distance at once. In high school, I ran cross country on the boys’ team one season just to get in shape to play basketball.”

Luann was the Rowan County Female Athlete of the year 1978. She said, “I was very honored to be named Rowan County’s top female athlete. I was very active and played as many sports as I could. Basketball, softball, track and field and cross country filled my time. This was before volleyball and soccer were in the high schools. I feel basketball was my best sport, but softball was a close second.”

Every sport Luann played had some running, but most of it was sprints with a little distance for conditioning. She said, “I continued my love for sports at Appalachian State, playing softball and basketball. After college I have played a little softball on summer league teams. Feeling like I was missing something, I started running and began participating in 5K’s in the Rowan area.”

Eventually Luann joined a local group of women to train for and complete Mt. Airy’s Mayberry Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in 2018 and 2019, something she never thought she would do.

There are only a few good runners locally who are also race directors. Luann said, “In 2010, our mission teams at Shiloh Reformed Church of Faith were looking for ways to make money to fund our mission trips, and we began talking to David Freeze who showed us how to have a 5K. That first one went so well that just a few weeks ago we had our 12th annual 5K. The Salisbury Rowan Runners have helped us make each race successful. The proceeds from these races fund our middle school, high school and adult teams that participate in mission work all over the east coast. Every three or four years the High School Mission Team will plan a big trip that includes a plane trip somewhere out west.”

Luann said. “I’ve been married to Gary for 39 years. We have a daughter MikelAnn in Weddington and a son Ritchie in Durham. Our one grandson is 8-year-old Smith, and our two granddaughters are 5-year-old Vera and 6-month-old Stella. My father and mother, Jay and Shelby Ritchie, were very supportive of my love for sports throughout my life. They sometimes thought I was a little crazy but always remained supportive. I think I got my love for sports from my father. He loved basketball and baseball in high school and went on to play professional baseball. This led to watching a lot of baseball when I was younger which took me down the sports path and I’m not complaining a bit.”

Now 62, Luann has simple goals. She just wants to continue running and staying active in the running community. She wants to influence her grandchildren to love running and play sports. For my money, she’s been one of the most supportive of local runners, usually volunteering with SRR’s Beginning Running Class series and encouraging runners of all ages. And it just so happens, she’s still very competitive and near the top of her age group at the local races. Credit Luann Fesperman for being one of the locals who have made running so popular in Rowan County.

The next event up locally is a 5K Prediction Run at City Park on Aug. 13. Look for it and other upcoming events at