New cause, modified course for Discovery Place KIDS 5K

Run for the Ribbons to kick off county 5K season 

By Kevin Spradlin

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2015 Richmond County race schedule

Greg Wrape has his work cut out for him. If Jodi Heimrich has anything to do with it, the Hamlet resident’s time of 19 minutes won’t even come close to winning this year’ s run at Discovery Place KIDS in downtown Rockingham.

Younger runners take their first right turn in the Big Fun Run last year in downtown Rockingham.

Younger runners take their first right turn in the Big Fun Run last year in downtown Rockingham.

There’s a  new cause, a new race director and a slightly modified course for what was, in 2014, the inaugural Discovery Place KIDS 5K run and walk in downtown Rockingham. This year, it’s called the Run for the Ribbons 5K. The goal is to increase cancer awareness.

The event date is set for Saturday, April 18. Packet pickup is Friday at the children’s science museum and on Saturday prior to the race. The 5K will start promptly at 10 a.m. A children’s 1K run, slightly longer than a half-mile, will begin at 9:30 a.m.

5K registration is $30 and $15 for 1K participants. And race director Jodi Heimrich is offering a “5 Weeks to 5K Success” training program for an additional cost. The race is the first of three 5K events on consecutive weekends. The Cordova School 5K is scheduled for April 25 and the Run for Technology 5K, coordinated by the Rockingham Middle School Running Club, is set for May 2.

Heimrich, a veteran runner who was eyeing the sun and friendly temperature from The Pee Dee Post office Monday afternoon hoping to squeeze in a run of her own, is group fitness coordinator for FirstHealth in Pinehurst. Sh’s also in charge of making sure all of the race-day related logistics go smoothly. It’s a big job, but Heimrich has lofty goals — to oversee the transition from a smalltown 5K to something more of a destination event — and the credentials to make those goals a reality.

Last year’s event in downtown Rockingham featured 105 finishers in the 5K distance and a couple of dozen more in the untimed Big Fun Run, a fun run for kids to run long with their parents (if the parents can keep up).

Heimrich is aiming for bigger. Much bigger.

“I would be thrilled if we got 350 to 400 runners” this year, Heimrich said. “One of my challenges is bringing those people from Moore County down to run a new course.”

The old course in Raeford was perfect, Heimrich said, but practical needs demanded a new approach. Previously, Run for the Ribbons was contested at Carolina Horse Park in Raeford. Last year, Raeford’s own Chad Ware won in 15 minutes and 38 seconds on a grassy course that’s traditionally posts slower times. He was the first of 336 participants to cross the finish line.

“Actually, it was my favorite course,” said Heimrich, a California native in her 50s, with two decades of race directing experience.

The primary sponsor pulled out after 2014. New venue, same cause. Funds will go to the foundations’ cancer fund, which helps pay expenses for family members of cancer patients — costs not covered by insurance, such as travel, co-pays, medication and more.

“When FirstHealth reached out to us about a partnership, they were interested in extending their mission to include the whole family by promoting the importance of healthy lifestyles at an early age,” said Kaitlin Rogers, of Discovery Place KIDS in Charlotte. “This was a great fit with Discovery Place KIDS’ I CAN Be Healthy program.  As part of the partnership, we combined our two races and helped them create a new logo and message that incorporated the whole family. With this partnership, both Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham and the Cancer Care Fund are beneficiaries of the race.”

Heimrich has altered the course slightly in response to concerns expressed by last year’s runners. Many thought the finish line was in front of Discovery Place KIDS when the finish actually required a righthand turn into the parking lot off East Washington Street. That’s no longer the case.

The course will begin in front of The Pee Dee Post on East Washington Street and make a right onto Hancock Street — not Lawrence this year — before making a right onto Greene Street and a left onto Lawrence. Runners will go up the same hill there as in 2014, crest it and then turn right onto Everett towards First Baptist Church.

The rest of the course — all but the finish — is the same as in 2014. Runners will travel down Randolph Street and pick up the Hitchcock Creek trail to Love Lane. They’ll climb up Love Lane, turn left onto Hawthorne and left on Ann by Rockingham Middle School.

That’s about the 2-mile point. With 1.1 to go, runners will take a right onto Foushee Street and cross over Fayetteville Road to Stewart, then turn right onto Washington Street all the way to the front of Discovery Place KIDS.

Veteran course certifier Brad Smythe has remeasured the course to ensure the race is a proper 3.1 miles. USATF certification also means that state records, if any are set, would be validated.

5 Weeks to 5K Success

Heimrich said she’d love to see as many first-timers as possible, and that she’s happy to help them reach not only the start line, but the finish line. A five-week training program she’ll oversee based at the FirstHealth Fitness Center in Rockingham will take “somebody that’s pretty much a non-runner (and) get them in a position where they can jog, run (or) whatever their first 5K.”

The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday at the fitness center for group runs. Heimrich will offer a training plan and a training log for each runner to record their workouts.

“Pretty much as long as they stick with the plan, they’re good to go,” Heimrich said confidently.

During the weekly sessions, she’ll offer tips on proper attire, course insights, nutrition advice and stretching techniques, among other topics.

Participation requires a separate fee. For more information call 910-410-0123.

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