The Autumn Leaves Festival won’t be the only “game” in town Saturday morning, when the 5K on the Greenway also will be held.
While some visitors to Mount Airy are scouting for collard green sandwiches and other fare offered at the festival, hundreds of runners will be hitting the local greenway system and streets for the event now in its 13th year.
A fun run/walk and a rubber duck regatta also are planned in conjunction with the race schedule, which will include the 5K run beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday and the half-mile fun run at 8:45.
Runners representing all age groups will be competing for cash prizes and bragging rights in the 5K event and at the same time benefiting the community. Proceeds from the 5K on the Greenway, co-hosted by the Reeves Community Center Foundation and Mount Airy City Schools, will aid their respective recreational and educational efforts.
In 2016, the race generated about $10,000, according to Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Catrina Alexander, which was split between those two entities that have co-hosted the event for several years.
This year, the schools will use their share of the proceeds for technology needs while the RCC Foundation plans to direct it toward scholarships for recreation programs for citizens in need and various healthy initiatives.
Race organizer Darren Lewis, the assistant city recreation director, is hoping to have about 250 runners lined up by race day.
“At last report, we had just under 200,” said Catrina Alexander, city recreation department director in comments Wednesday afternoon.
The certified 5K (3.1-mile) course mainly includes the Emily B. Taylor Greenway along Lovills Creek.
It will start on the greenway beyond the horse farm near Independence Boulevard and then head right on West Lebanon Street and left on Howard Street. The course will loop around Crescent Drive, Park Avenue and Marion Street, before heading right on West Lebanon and left on the greenway.
The finish line is behind Roses.
In an era when most every community now holds at least one run each year, the 5K on the Greenway has remained a popular destination among participants for several reasons, according to Alexander.
One is the longevity of the run itself, a well-organized, professional chip-timed event aided by a veteran volunteer team.
“It was one of the first races ever locally and it’s got a lot of community support from local corporations and others who have stepped up to support the race,” the recreation director said. Renfro Corp. is this year’s title sponsor.
“The other thing, I think, is it’s done in conjunction with the festival,” Alexander said of the Autumn Leaves gathering.
A lot of folks are in town for the festival’s three-day run, some of whom consider participating in a 5K race a welcome diversion — especially on a pleasant fall day.
“It’s sort of that health thing you can do before you eat that Amish doughnut or ground-steak sandwich,” the recreation director said.
Given the presence of the fun run/walk and the rubber duck regatta, the 5K on the Greenway makes for a well-rounded slate of activities appealing not only to hard-core runners but folks just looking for a good time.
“It’s a family-oriented event,” Alexander said, with runners, walkers and strollers welcome.
Registration fees for the 5K run are $25 for participants under 18 and $35 for adults. The cost of the fun run is $15 including shirts, and free without shirts.
Cash prizes are at stake for the overall male/female finishers in first, second and third place.
The top three competitors in male and female age divisions also will be awarded, including 10 and under, 11-13, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus.
Registration can be completed before race day at the itsyourrace.com website.
Rubber duck regatta
The ducks will “race” down Lovills Creek after the 5K run, offering cash prizes to humans participating in the contest.
Each duck will cost $5, or $20 for five ducks.
Those lucky enough to have the top three ducks are to receive $200, $100 and $50.
Participants do not have to be present to win.
All proceeds from the rubber duck regatta will benefit the Mount Airy High School swim team.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.