Gotta Run: How best to enjoy Sunday’s Winter Flight races

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

When we think of the Catawba College campus on a Sunday afternoon, first thoughts probably include peaceful and quiet. This Sunday will be quite different! The Indians baseball team will be playing at noon in the third game of their first series of the season. And about the same time, nearly 400 runners from at least seven states will descend on campus for the New Sarum Brewing 40th Annual Winter Flight 8K, 5K and Fun Run. Peaceful and quiet will exit until the game and races are complete.

If you’re new to watching races, especially one of the oldest and best in the state, here are a few tips. Especially on this day, parking around the baseball and football stadium, the finish area for all the races, will be at a premium. As I said, the game starts at noon, but the races start later. My suggestion is to park somewhere else on campus and walk down to the stadium.

Here’s the schedule. The fun run at 1:30 p.m. is open to any age and is set for the track inside Shuford Stadium. The distance is a half mile, approximately two laps around the track. Mostly dominated by kids, 12 and under, this will be a mad dash back to the finish line that’s worth seeing.

Next at about 1:55 p.m., Neal Wilkinson will sing his rousing national anthem just ahead of the wheelchair start at 1:58 p.m. About seven racing wheelchairs with special needs children as riders will be pushed by strong adult legs as they get a head start on the rest of the field. They will start in front of the Goodman Gym.

Then comes the main start for most of the competitors. All participants in the 8K and 5K races will officially start at 2 p.m. from that same Goodman Gym location.

Once the races start, tremendous energy will remain in the area as the runners and walkers follow their courses before all 5Kers and 8Kers return to finish on the track inside Shuford Stadium. A popular vantage point is Catawba’s homeside football seating. Names of participants can be heard from the stadium announcer as they loop about 3/4 of the track before crossing the actual finish line. Most participants push as hard as they can once they reach the track and then on to the finish.

The historic and competitive 8K (4.97 miles) leaves Catawba on Yost Street and then turns right on Statesville Boulevard. Then another right on Milford Drive until the course joins Jake Alexander Extension. Next comes another right on U.S. Hwy. 601/Innes Street before entering Catawba’s campus again on North Park Drive before a left on Yost and a sharp right turn into the stadium for the finish. Finding a safe place to park along the course gives spectators a unique opportunity to see the runners pass by. It’s also a great way to encourage them.

Notable runners to watch are China Grove’s Jonathan Martin and England native and current Charlotte resident Luke Greer. Both are in their mid-20s and should be at or near the front of the pack. One of Winter Flight’s favorite runners is 93-year-old Dr. Dick Rosen of Greensboro who will be trying to set a record for the 90-94 age group. Runners coming from the farthest distance at press time were Michael Zachow of Bemidji, Minnesota and Cindy Moser of Wilton, Connecticut.

Awards for all races will be announced inside Goodman Gym starting with the 5K winners about 3:20 p.m. and will conclude when all participants have finished. The awards ceremony is free and open to anyone.

Spectating is free, but registration for all the Winter Flight races remains open until about 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, both online and in person. All proceeds go to Rowan Helping Ministries. For additional information, go to or You can also call 704-310-6741.