Gotta Run: Molly Nunn, the face of Winter Flight for many years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2023

I mentioned in last week’s column that our very popular Winter Flight races are just ahead on Feb. 5. One of the best things about one of the state’s oldest races is that I get to see and meet great people from the state and region when they visit Salisbury. One of the best of those is Molly Nunn, and here is her story.

As a small child and tomboy, Molly often set up obstacle courses in her neighborhood for friends to race through. Neighbor’s yards, the surrounding woods, hills, over logs, creeks, etc. were tests for Molly and her friends.

Then came soccer where Molly was good enough to have aspirations for the Olympic Development Program, hoping to be the next Mia Hamm. She said, “I ended up practicing with the boys’ team in high school and tearing my ACL in practice one day. My soccer dreams were ended.” Frustrated and depressed and in a full leg brace, Molly limped to the road and hobbled one step at a time to the top of a big hill, Molly added, “I stood there crying and angry that one dream had ended but that changed into a fire and determination to keep going, and that’s where the birth of my running career began. Every ending is a new beginning.”

Born in Hickory, Molly with mom, dad, and brother Adam moved to Winston-Salem at age three. Molly spent her school years at Calvary Baptist involved in sports, student council, choir, Quiz Bowl, chess club and as a camp counselor in the summers. Next came Wake Forest University where she majored in English and journalism and also walked onto the cross-country/track and field team. Having never run a track race upon entering Wake, Molly was simply told, “Molly, just go left!”

After Wake, Molly taught students with learning and attention disorders at Forsyth Country Day School and coached the running teams, even including being a 20-something terrified bus driver. After five years of teaching, she decided to change careers and went back to Wake to get her MBA. Molly said, “I was working full time, going to school and also pursuing a goal of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon Trials. What I came to realize was that all the hard work, the journey, and the commitment to that goal provided me with invaluable lessons that help me today.”

Molly worked in global finance for 10 years with the great gift to travel internationally and see a lot of different countries. She’s now with Lowes Foods in Winston-Salem as a finance director and about to hit her one-year anniversary.

Molly’s top running memories include leading a blind runner through the Outer Banks Marathon for 6 hours and 33 minutes, running a super muddy cross-country race in London as “Myrna Dune” because she couldn’t use her real name, and missing the Olympic Marathon Trials time by 8 seconds while puking all over the finish line. Lesson learned-take on a goal way bigger than you think you can achieve, and you will surprise yourself.”

For fun, Molly has taken up golf and after a year and a half, she hopes to soon break 90. Always reading, she’s currently enjoying a book on Winston Churchill.

For 2023, Molly said, “I’ve trained very hard for almost 20 years and so I decided for this year, I will find joy in simply being able to run, pushing myself or not, while finding the freedom that comes with why we fall in love with running in the first place. In the future, I would like to break 5 minutes in the mile again and run a low 17-min 5K.”

Molly summed up her Winter Flight experience, “When I traveled extensively, I loved ‘coming home.’ When I started running the Winter Flight 8K, it was about winning, trying to set records and running a fast time. The course is tough and I loved the challenge, but as the years go by, it got to feel a lot like coming home with that warm sense of welcome and seeing familiar faces, catching up with friends that I sometimes only see once a year at the race, and with each year we make another year of great racing history. So, it is an honor to be able to a part of the Winter Flight races.”

The female 8-time winner of the 8K, more than double the wins of any past entrant, Molly will be at the 40th Annual New Sarum Brewing Winter Flight races again. I hope you will too. All proceeds benefit Rowan Helping Ministries.

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