If pre-event buzz is any indication, this year’s Downtown Rocks and Runs will be one for the record books.
Organizers say they are expecting a “great turnout,” and they can’t wait for Saturday’s event, which serves as the kick-off for the United Fund of Surry’s annual fund-raising season.
“We’re getting really close to our goal of 200 runners,” said United Fund Director Beth Pequeno. “And I’m hoping for even more.”
This year’s seventh annual event for the first time will feature a morning run.
“This year the run will get under way at 8 a.m.,” Pequeno said. “We have been doing an evening run, but we think the temperature and humidity will be down in the morning. Last year we also had evening storms, so we decided to switch it to a morning run.”
She said switching the race to the morning also opens up the opportunity for after-race activities.
“The Mount Airy downtown merchants are putting together a scavenger hunt for race participants this year,” she said. “Because we’re doing the race in the morning this time, we have the opportunity for runners to participate in the scavenger hunt.”
Everyone who completes the hunt will be eligible for a drawing for a gift basket filled with items supplied by downtown merchants.
The race will begin on Cherry Street in Mount Airy near the Century Link building. The course will travel through downtown and along the greenway and end in front of the municipal building.
Pequeno said the course has been certified by U.S. Track and Field, and for the second year in a row will feature chip timing.
“Some of the runners who participate want to run bigger races and need certified qualifying times,” she said. “The certification and chip timing is very important to them.”
Another first this year is a Corporate Fitness Challenge.
Companies put together a team of at least 10 runners and/or walkers. Teams can include board members, spouses of employees and employees’ children. Early registration is $25 per participant.
Each team member puts an additional $5 in the contest “pot” in addition to the registration fee.
“The company with the average fastest runners wins the pot,” Pequeno said, noting a trophy would also be awarded to the company.
Teams must select a team captain, who will set up their team registration at www.downtownrocksandruns.itsyourrace.com. Once the team captain is set up team members can register at the same site for a $3 registration fee.
In addition, businesses can take part in a participation challenge to see who can bring the most participants.
“There will be no timing involved in the participation challenge, it’s just about how many participants we can get,” Pequeno said.
Following the race and post-race activities participants can take part in an after-party.
“At 7 p.m., we’re going to host an after-party at Old North State Winery,” Pequeno said. “We’re going to have the band Hot Sauce providing music. They play a variety of party music ranging from top 40 to oldies and maybe even a little beach music.
“It’s just going to be a good time for everyone.”
Runners are admitted to the after-party free of change. Non-runners will be charged a $10 cover.
Racers can register online through Thursday night at midnight at www.downtownrocksandruns.itsyourrace.com. Registration is also available at Reeves Community Center and at the gate on race day.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.