Persons attending the Autumn Leaves Festival will do much walking along downtown Mount Airy streets — but for those desiring a faster pace, there’s another event nearby.
The annual 5K on the Greenway — which has become almost as much of a festival fixture as ground-steak sandwiches or fried apple pies — will be held Saturday morning.
Hundreds of runners are expected to take part in the event now in its 14th year. The 5k (3.1-mile) race/walk is scheduled for 8 a.m., with a half-mile fun run/walk to begin at 8:45 a.m.
The 5K on the Greenway participants just won’t be competing for cash prizes and bragging rights, but aiding a pair of local causes.
Proceeds from the event, co-hosted by the Reeves Community Center Foundation and Mount Airy City Schools, will aid their respective recreational and educational efforts.
The event usually generates about $10,000, which will assist with scholarship efforts of the Reeves foundation to help local youths take part in recreational programs they otherwise could not afford. This includes memberships at Reeves Community Center, which provides access to activities such as swimming and basketball.
City schools will use proceeds from the 5K on the Greenway for ongoing technology needs.
“We are excited about this upcoming event,” said Mount Airy Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis, who helps coordinate the run that was one of the first to be held locally.
Preliminary registration figures show that the number of runners is on pace to greatly eclipse last year’s turnout.
“Last year, we had 210 total,” Lewis said of both the 5K and fun runs.
“Right now we’re at 212,” he said of the early signups as of Tuesday.
With good running weather on tap Saturday, when highs in the upper 60s are forecast along with mostly clear skies, Lewis is expecting an influx.
“We hope we’ll have a lot of same-day registrants,” added the recreation director. “I would love to see 300 runners Saturday between the two races.”
Race day registration and packet pickup is scheduled from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Saturday on the Emily B. Taylor Greenway behind Roses and Choice Physical Therapy.
The 5K on the Greenway route is described as a fast, flat course.
It begins beyond the horse farm on the trail near Independence Boulevard and leads to West Lebanon Street and then onto Howard Street, looping around Crescent Drive, Park Avenue and Marion Street and back onto West Lebanon to reach the greenway.
The finish line is behind Roses.
Registration fees for the 5K run are $25 for participants younger than 18 and $35 for adults. The cost of the fun run is free ($15 for those getting a race shirt).
Cash prizes are at stake for the overall male/female finishers in first, second and third places.
The top three competitors in male and female age divisions also will be awarded, including 10 and younger, 11-13, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69 and 70-plus.
Online registration is available at the itsyourrace.com website.
Rubber Duck Regatta
A side attraction that has come to be associated with the 5K on the Greenway will be continued this year, the Rubber Duck Regatta.
Toy ducks will “race” down Lovills Creek after the 5K run, with cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50 offered to human participants whose ducks are among the top three finishers.
The contest costs $5 per duck or $20 for five ducks.
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.
The fact the 5K on the Greenway is held at the same time as the Autumn Leaves Festival benefits both events, according to Lewis.
He said the run is an opportunity to showcase some of the other attractions in Mount Airy to the hundreds of race participants. “It’s just another thing to do.”
At the same time, some of the festival-goers coming in might appreciate the chance to get away from Main Street for a while and participate in the 5K on the Greenway, a family-oriented gathering attended by people of all ages.
Lewis said thanks are due to the sponsors of the event, including Renfro Corp., the title sponsor.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.