Traffic disrupted: Torch Run builds Special Olympics awareness

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Wendi Clewis and Thomas Grooms approach the Rotary Lodge at Hinson Lake to finish Richmond County's leg of the 2014 North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Wendi Clewis and Thomas Grooms approach the Rotary Lodge at Hinson Lake to finish Richmond County’s leg of the 2014 North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.PeeDeePost.com

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RICHMOND COUNTY — Motorists from the R.W. Goodman bridge over the Pee Dee River at the western edge of Richmond County to East Washington Street Extended at Hinson Lake took time to ponder the impact and importance of Special Olympics.

They had to. There was little choice but to temporarily stop and watch the convoy of law enforcement officers, ambulance and runners complete the 9.65-mile distance Monday morning from the bridge along Highway Business 74, up Long Drive and in the shade of Rotary Lodge at Hinson Lake.

And honk in support of the runners’ efforts.

Led by a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office patrol car,  the convoy of half a dozen runners, a First Health EMS ambulance, two private support vehicles and a North Carolina Highway Patrol vehicle snaked its way into and through downtown Rockingham from 8:45 a.m. to 10:25 a.m. It took approximately 1 hour and 41 minutes, a pace of 10:28 per mile, for the group to complete the journey. In town, multiple Rockingham Police Department cruisers assisted with traffic control, especially at key intersections such as Highway Business 74 at Long Drive and then along Long Drive at Rockingham Road and East Washington Street.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The Richmond County leg of the 2014 North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics included, back row, from left to right: Brian Taylor, Ashley Brower, Neil Parrisher, Norvin Forrester and Wendi Clewis; and front row, left to right: John Edwards, Denise Smith, Thomas Grooms, Clint Greene and Dabrielle McMillian.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The Richmond County leg of the 2014 North Carolina Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics included, back row, from left to right: Brian Taylor, Ashley Brower, Neil Parrisher, Norvin Forrester and Wendi Clewis; and front row, left to right: John Edwards, Denise Smith, Thomas Grooms, Clint Greene and Dabrielle McMillian.

The event, coordinated by Sheriff’s Office Lt. John Edwards, was meant to raise awareness for the Richmond County Special Olympics program, including the 104 athletes registered for the recent Spring Games at Richmond Senior High School. Employees with the sheriff’s office, N.C. Highway Patrol Troop H and the local  Probation and Parole Office participated in the run.

“What’s the run for,” inquired one motorist. When told the Special Olympics, he responded, “cool!”

According to an unofficial course elevation profile from usatf.org, Mile 2, in the early going, and Mile 7, along Highway 74 Business from just east of U.S. Route 1 to just shy of Pickett Street, will be the two most challenging uphill portions of the route. Unofficially, the route has 1,064 feet of elevation change including 571 feet of total climbing.

“I’m too old for this,” said Norvin Forrester as he stretched out his legs while perched in a spot overlooking Hinson Lake. Forrester said he will turn 45 this Saturday and was the oldest of the group.

Still, Forrester seemed to manage just fine. When he became fatigued, he began calling military cadences to help keep his feet in rhythm even when his feet didn’t want to move forward.

The runners and support crew stopped the clock upon reaching the Rotary Lodge at Hinson Lake, where a fresh set of volunteers, including Sheriff James Clemmons Jr., were on hand to grill lunch for everyone involved. Clemmons said he was grateful for the initiative and energy expended by the runners and volunteers.

“My running days are over,” Clemmons said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

 

 

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