Organizers of this year’s Feed Stokes 5K and Half Marathon are expecting the annual race to bring up to 300 runners to the King community on Saturday.
“We had over 230 people registered as of last week,” said Jeff Beckelhimer,who has taken the lead on organizing the race this year. “Last year we had a total of 187 so we are almost going to double participation from last year. It is absolutely incredible.
“It means there are more people coming to our community, more people spending money while they are in our community, but best of all it means we are raising more money for the food ministries here in Stokes County. Every additional runner we get is more money we are able to donate to the food pantries here in Stokes.”
The race was started six years ago when a group of local civic organizations, led by the King Rotary Club, wanted to create an event to help King Outreach Ministries. Since that first race, the event has grown and evolved, changing locations, bringing in other county civic groups and expanding its donations to include the East Stokes Outreach Ministries and the Northern Stokes Food Pantry.
Donations from the Feed Stokes race have contributed more than $25,000 over the past six years to help fight hunger in the county.
Beckelhimer said the race is drawing runners from near and far.
“The bulk of the half marathoners are coming from 30 to 40 minutes away from here,” he said,” But we have people coming from South Carolina, Tennessee, Raleigh, Wilmington, Roanoke, and Southwestern Virginia. We also have a handful of people who are part of a group call 100 Halfs. Their life goal is to run two half marathons in every state. We have some folks that are coming from New York and Pennsylvania specifically to run this race.”
Beckelhimer noted that organizers purposefully had planned the race to happen early on Saturday morning to have as little impact on traffic in the area as possible.
He said the half marathon would start in Central Park at 7:15 and the 5k would start at 7:45 with most road closures clearing by 9 a.m.
“The 5k will go from Central Park on neighborhood streets to Recreation Acres and then back to Central Park,” said Beckelhimer. “The half will go out on Dalton and then up Mountain View, turn left on Hartgrove then right on Brown. I expect the last runner to go through there at about 8 a.m. Then they turn left on Chestnut Grove go down to where Chestnut Grove and Volunteer come together then turn left on Old 52 and come back to Dalton.
“We have deputy sheriffs stationed at some of the intersections to let cars know something is going on and the county is putting up their electronic signs to let drivers know there are runners on the road,” he added.
The race also features the Second Annual Jock Lloyd Challenge, a road race in honor of the former South Stokes High School teacher who was an avid runner and was instrumental in encouraging others to run.The Jock Lloyd Challenge will take the idea of contributing to the food banks to the next level. The race will be the first in the county specifically designed to address childhood obesity and to promote healthy living through running.
Beckelhimer said runners could still register on the day of the race, with registration starting at 6:30 a.m.
All runners will get a high quality long-sleeve dry-fit shirt from Hanes Brands and the King Rotary Club will be cooking pancakes for runners to enjoy after they have crossed the finish line.
Runners are encouraged to bring at least three units of non-perishable food to be donated to the county food pantries.
Beckelhimer said over 50 volunteers were involved with organizing the race including members of the King and Walnut Cove Rotary Clubs, Stokes Family YMCA, Hanging Rock District of Boy Scouts, Chestnut Grove Ruritan Club and the City of King.
“The ROTC are also providing huge help with volunteers out on the course,” he added.
He said spectators are also welcome along the course.
“Come out and support this race because it is doing a lot of good for the county,” Beckelhimer said. “If you live close to the course and want to come out and cheer the runners as the go by that would be fantastic. The runners would love it. We have runners of all different levels doing this. We have some speedsters to people doing their first half marathon.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.