Hundereds turn out for holiday run

Keith Strange Staff Reporter

December 16, 2013

A little rain didn’t scare anyone Saturday morning.

The sounds of Christmas music echoed over the Ararat River Greenway at Riverside Park Saturday as more than 300 runners, sort-of runners, and perhaps folks who just wanted to wear something fun gathered for this year’s Rosy Cheeks 5K.

The event, co-sponsored by Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and the Mount Airy Road Runners running club, has in recent years become the largest-attended road race in the area, according to Darren Lewis of the Mount Airy recreation department.

And this year was no different.

“We’re busy, busy, busy,” said a breathless Shannon Phipps as she signed up last-minute participants shortly before the 9 a.m., kickoff. “I couldn’t begin to tell you how many people we’ve signed up this morning.”

Lewis was all smiles as he watched the gathered runners, many wearing holiday finery, get ready for the start of the race.

“It’s just going great,” he said. “We have over 300 runners signed up, and it’s just a festive event that’s all about having fun for an outstanding cause.”

Once again, the race was a community outreach, as runners brought toys that were collected and will be distributed to needy children by the Mount Airy Police Department.

“It’s great to see how the community has bought into this, and it’s awesome to see the outpouring of support,” Lewis said. “I can’t tell you the number of toys we’ve collected just this morning.”

A busy Capt. Alan Freeman of the Mount Airy Police Department spent his morning loading the ever-growing collection of toys into a trailer.

“We’ve gotten a few this morning,” he said jokingly as he gestured to the stacks and stacks of toys in the trailer. “There has been a lot of community support over the years, and that’s true once again this year.”

He became more serious.

“We really appreciate it,” he said. “There are a lot of needy families in this community who really need it.”

A few minutes later, there was a raucous cheer as an air horn signaled the start of the community run.

And young and old, hundreds of smiling faces began running for a cause.

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.