Four road races highlight Rocky Mount’s revitalization in running

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Rocky Mount is experiencing a revitalization and something as simple as running is in the center of it all. Tar River Running Company now hosts four premier race events that encourage fitness while showcasing all Rocky Mount has to offer.

2016 kicked off with the 4th Annual Resolution Run along the Tar River. This year floodwaters caused a last-minute course change, but that didn’t stop eager runners from coming out on New Year’s Day for a run through some of Rocky Mount’s best parks.

Next up on the race calendar is the 7th Annual Sweetheart 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run. This race is jointly produced by Tar River Running Company and Rocky Mount Parks and Recreation. The original race in 2009 was created to replace the former Turkey Trot put on by Parks and Rec and has become a local favorite. The race has also drawn some of the top runners in the state. Course records are an impressive 15:31 for men and 16:37 for women. The race has hosted multiple Olympic Trial qualifiers over its seven-year history. To add some additional excitement, Wade Designs Jewelry will give one lucky 5k runner diamond earrings at the conclusion of the awards ceremony.

On May 1, the 3rd Annual Nash Health Care Rocket Mile takes off. The event is hosted at the Imperial Centre by the city of Rocky Mount. In just two years, the Rocket Mile has become the largest competitive road mile in the state. With the growth of the event, Rocky Mount has become a destination for some of the North Carolina runners to see just how fast they can run a mile. Last year, Sandy Roberts set the course record at the event. Sandy became one of the best known milers in the state when he posted an amazing 3:51 in Raleigh at the Downhill Hill Mile in 2014.

This year the Rocket Mile has been awarded the N.C. State Champion by NC USA Track and Field and the Road Runner Club of America. Yes, you read that correctly; Rocky Mount is hosting the state championship! This is exciting news for the city of Rocky Mount as we will see some of the top elite runners in the state running the roads of downtown.

The Rocket Mile is not just for the elite runners. It is a family-friendly event that invites runners of all ages, speeds and ability levels. With four separate races for men, women, boys and girls, participants have a rare opportunity to be both a runner and a spectator at the same event. Many local schools such as Englewood and Red Oak Elementary create Endurance Clubs to prepare students for the race, making it extra thrilling for area youth. With live music and grilled food from Lou Reda’s American Table this event is fun for everyone from age 8 to 80.

The finale event for Rocky Mount is the brand new Rocky Mount Mills 5k, Concert, and Food Truck Rodeo. All proceeds from this June 4 event will go to benefit the fight against cystic fibrosis. This event is not your “run of the mill” 5k. The race begins at the historic Rocky Mount Mills and takes runners on a beautiful tour of Rocky Mount. Runners will take in views of the Tar River, Sunset Park, the new tennis courts, City Lake, and the restored Mill Village homes.

Following the race, the band, Matty Begs from Wilson, will play an outdoor concert on a stage directly beside Sweet Taters Restaurant & Brewery. While runners and guests listen to music and sip some North Carolina craft beer, they will also be able to enjoy fresh food from one of many food trucks that will be on site. The music and food will continue until 1 p.m.

So no matter if you are brand new to running or an experienced veteran, Rocky Mount has a race for you! Exciting things are happening in our city. Don’t miss out! You can learn more about all of these events at www.tarriverrunning.com.

Michael Forrester

Rocky Mount

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