The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 28, 2012

Popularity of free running events growing

By Peter Asciutto for the SNAP

Friday, December 28, 2012 — As 2012 comes to a close, it’s time to recap the year in running in Stanly County.

Stanly County has an unique combination of free events and paid runs of various distances to keep pavement pounders of all levels moving down the road.

Starting with January’s Fellowship of the Idiot Run to December’s Doomsday 3.8-mile Run, 971 runners and walkers participated in the eight free events. The Idiot Run began in 2004 with seven runners making the journey from the YMCA to the top of Morrow Mountain and back. The 2012 edition was the largest ever with 65 runners earning idiot status for the first time, bringing the total to 146 runners that are on the Idiot Wall of Fame.

The other annual no charge events that continued to grow were the Waffle House 10K Plus Run, Watermelon Run and the Turkey Trot. When the Northeast. Connector was closed to build the traffic circles, a special summer Waffle House Run was organized. Running from one Waffle House to the other and back with no traffic was a treat for the runners.

Runners dressed in red, white and blue on the Fourth of July for the Watermelon Run at Morrow Mountain State Park. Cold watermelon greeted the runners after they ran from the front gate to the top of Morrow Mountain and back. The 2013 Watermelon Run may move to another venue to accommodate the growing number of runners.

The most popular free event is the Turkey Trot 4.2 Mile Run organized by the Uwharrie Running Club on Thanksgiving Day. The run began in 2002 with 12 runners making the jaunt. This year the run drew 396 participants and collected 1,272 pounds of food for the Stanly County Christian Ministries.

December had two one-time events. On Dec. 12, 43 runners participated in the 12-12-12 Double Whammy Run. There were two runs that day. One started at 6 a.m. with the other at 6 p.m. Runners ran as many 1.5 mile loops as they wanted to. Connie Eckman, Sharon Davis and Tim Bennett were the only three to complete 12 miles.

A total of 68 runners from throughout the region showed up at 6:00 am on Dec. 21 for the 3.8-mile Doomsday Run. Those that ran, got a free Doomsday Run towel and koozie. Many of the runners also purchased an optional t-shirt. The long-sleeve shirt had the Doomsday logo on the front and the following words on the back: “I ran like there was no tomorrow, only to discover that the Mayans were wrong.”

The free events are not timed and awards are not handed out. The stress free atmosphere in these events is popular with the runners.

In Sunday’s sports section, I will have the recap of the top races in 2012.