Greer comes close to record time in 40th annual Winter Flight

Published 12:04 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

SALISBURY — With 372 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes registered for North Carolina’s third oldest race, the 40th annual New Sarum Brewing Winter Flight 8K/5K and Fun Run wasn’t just about the competition.

Participants from seven states and as far away as Minnesota and Connecticut took part Sunday with opportunities for any age and ability. While the 8K (4.97 miles) is competitive, others taking part ranged from 3-year-olds up to 92. The historic course that starts and ends at Catawba College has the same rolling hills that runners can measure their fitness on, year after year.

Luke Greer, British born and currently coaching at Queen’s University in Charlotte, came to challenge the 8K course record set in 1988. He missed setting a new record by just 24 seconds, finishing in 23 minutes and 58 seconds. Charlotte’s Jonathan Martin, formerly of China Grove and last year’s winner, was second in 24:52 while 41-year-old Justin Sink of Lexington took third in 29:01.

Greer said, “I will be back next year. I will just have to train harder to get that record.”

Had he broken the record, Greer would have pocketed $750.

Leading the women was Hannah McEntire of Charlotte at 31:57. Second was Salisbury’s Bethany Vega in 32:55 and Sara Harmon of Kernersville finished third in 39:12. McEntire shaved 3 minutes and 54 seconds from her finishing time last year.

Brad Mueller of Salisbury was the top Rowan County male finisher in fourth at 29:13:12. Vega topped the local women.

The oldest runner was Dr. Dick Rosen of Greensboro. At 92, he qualified for the 8K NC 90-94 state record by completing the course in 1 hour, 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

The 5K (3.1 miles) is a community race with a focus on health and fitness. The top male was Statesville’s Sebastian-Davila Hernandez, a 15-year-old, with a time of 19:33. Melissa Orr from Charlotte paced the females in 24:45.

Blake Adams of Salisbury won the fun run in 2 minutes and 59 seconds. Also in the fun run was 63-year-old Linda Sherard, who ran in memory of Jack Sherard.

In the 5K, local ultramarathoner Stu Stepp returned to the race course for the first time since he experienced a blood clot issue on Jan. 1, 2022. While in the hospital, Stepp experienced a series of strokes that paralyzed most of his body. Stepp walked the 5K in 2 hours and 3 minutes, accompanied by his family.

“I have come a long way. I am determined to run again one day and hopefully inspire people along the way,” he said. “I won’t ever give up!”

Before the clot/stroke issues and his paralysis, Stepp competed in races from 26.2 to 100 miles.

Mike Zachow from Bemidji, Minnesota, traveled the longest distance to compete. He made a weekend out of his trip to North Carolina by racing Saturday in the Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh at N.C. State University, where runners must run 2.5 miles and eat a dozen donuts and then run another 2.5 miles back to the finish.

For the first time, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the event, runners could enter a raffle by being the first to claim the shirt for a particular year. Each qualifier had to send in a photo of themselves in the shirt. Laura Koontz of Salisbury won $250 with the first shirt from 1984, Elizabeth Kimberly of Mocksville won $100 for her 2014 shirt and Mark Summers of Salisbury got $50 with his shirt from 2008.

All proceeds from the Winter Flight races go to Rowan Helping Ministries. Other primary sponsors in addition to New Sarum Brewing are David Post Law, the Trophy House, Catawba College, City of Salisbury, Dr. Robert Glassgow, Debbie Suggs Catering, Stowe Law Firm and Carolina Cremation.

Complete results are at