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Heading south to Winthrop University

August 18, 2017

Early Monday morning about 3 a.m., I headed south with my wife Monique, my son Ben and our four-legged friend Shih Tzu Mac for Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. Ben will be a freshman at Winthrop, majoring in sports management. He was recruited to be a part of the cross country and track and field Division I program. We made three stops and still got there in just over nine hours in the half-pint, smooth-riding Chevy Silverado pickup we borrowed for the trip. The people of the South are incredibly friendly, and sometimes it seems they go out of their way to be extra friendly. “How are y’all doing today?” “Is there anything else we can do to help you today?” “You all have a great day, you hear?” Those are some of the common phrases I hear in the South as we visit different cities and towns.  

Ben spent a day moving in. The next day he had to do a load of NCAA paperwork and NCAA compliance requirements and physicals. On the third day, he left with the team and coaching staff for some mountain training and team bonding in the area of Brevard, N.C., at places like Davidson Forest and Slippery Rock.

I write this column from north of Asheville, N.C., in a tiny cottage in the mountains where there is no phone ringing, limited cell service, no internet, very secluded up on a hill along a rushing creek. On our way back to Delaware we will travel the Blue Ridge Parkway to Skyline Drive taking in more beautiful views and multiple waterfalls.  Beautiful, peaceful country in North Carolina, led by the North Carolina Arboretum, and Virginia. It’s very different from sitting in traffic on Route 1 trying to get to the Giant. 

Races in the South

There are many races in the South, and here are a few popular ones I researched as I traveled through the area. The Black Mountain Marathon in February is one of the popular races just outside Asheville, N.C. A challenging event, 40-miler and marathon, with several elevation changes throughout the beginning and toward the end of the race that keep it interesting throughout. 

Here is an interesting write-up on the event: The challenge is this: Begin at dawn in Black Mountain, the quaint "front porch of Western North Carolina," and follow trails to the "rooftop" of Western North Carolina, the 6,684-foot summit of Mt. Mitchell - eastern America's highest point - then return to the start/finish area! With a starting altitude of 2,360 feet, the elevation gain for this 40-mile run will be 4,324 feet in the first 20 miles!

Race founders Wendell Begley of Black Mountain Savings and Trent Thomas from Black Dome Mountain Sports saw a need for this kind of event for both the elite athlete and the weekend warrior. Their goal was to design a race that was attainable physically while offering the opportunity to test oneself against the often-uncooperative forces of nature. 

While you are required to carry all the gear you will need to complete the race for the entire distance (no drop bags or outside support allowed), there are a number of aid stations offered along the course where food and drink are available. 

Another event is the Asheville Marathon on the Biltmore Estate in March. It is a beautiful loop course on one of the most historic sites in the South. The grounds have two beautiful hotels now where runners can stay. This year, a Royal Trifecta Challenge was created for those who complete all three races at Biltmore: The Asheville Marathon or Half, the Biltmore/Kiwanis Classic 15K or 5K and finally the Asheville Off-Road Series. Special medals are presented to those who complete all three events. If you get a chance to travel to one of these events, it will be well worth the trip to the starting line.

Fire Fightin’ 5K

Some of the hardest workers all summer are the emergency responders who are up and down Route 1 all day and all night answering emergency calls of all kinds. On Sunday, Aug. 20, the third annual Fire Fightin’ 5K will be hosted by the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Co. at 8 a.m. Proceeds will benefit the Station 86 Capital Building Fund. Register online through noon, Saturday by going to www.seashorestriders.com or register on race morning beginning at 7 a.m. at Station One on Rehoboth Avenue. Awards will be presented to the overall, masters, and top three finishers in 14 age groups, from 9 and under to 80 and over. Tech T-shirts are given to the first 200 registered runners and walkers. The course will leave the Rehoboth Avenue station and travel to Lake Avenue to Oak Avenue to Surf Avenue and onto the Boardwalk until the Wilmington Avenue turnaround. The course will follow the same route back to the finish line at Station One. Support your local first responders with this event for a great cause. See you at the starting line!

Dam Mill 5K Hall of Fame

The Dam Mill 5K Hall of Fame began in 2003 to celebrate the 20th annual event in the little town of Millsboro. Every year the Seashore Striders have inducted a few individuals worthy of the honor who have helped make the event what it is today and preserve the history of a race nicknamed “the best little race in the state.”

This year I am pleased to induct two outstanding age-group runners into the hall. Always a force when they toe the line, it gives me great pleasure to induct Dianna Golden and Leslie Wright. Both runners have dominated several age groups in the race. From overall titles to masters titles to age-group titles, they have been at the top of the charts for many years.  

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