Downtown Rocks & Runs for the 11th time

By Bill Colvard

United Fund of Surry kicked off its fundraising campaign with the 11th-Annual Downtown Rocks & Runs 5K, 10K and Kid’s Fun Run on Saturday.

“This is the most participants we’ve ever had,” said Merry Craig Boaz, United Fund executive director. “There were 242 participants.”

“This event includes the 26 agencies that benefit from United Fund, 53 sponsors, donors both individual and corporate, and the community. This is a good opportunity for them all to come together. That doesn’t normally happen.”

Almost half of the runners who pre-registered were from outside Surry County, with several contingents coming from other states, according to Boaz.

“People are driving up here for this run. It’s a tourism event as well. I didn’t know that before.”

Unlike most of the local runs which are completely contained on the city’s greenway system, Downtown Rocks and Runs is partially a road race, with runners taking to city streets.

Downtown Rocks and Runs 5K, 10K and Kid’s Fun Run and the Mayberry half-marathon, 5k and 10k are the only races that utilize city roadways, according to Darren Lewis, director of Mount Airy Parks and Recreation.

Patrol Lt. Jeff Inman of the Mount Airy Police Department was directing traffic entering Main Street from Rockford Street into the lane of Main Street that was not occupied with the finish line for the 5k and 10k as runners passed by in one lane and cars in another.

“It would be more of a hazard if we closed the streets,” said Inman. It’s better to alleviate some of the traffic. If we closed all of the streets, traffic would back up so far. We have to allow some of them through.”

Inman estimated half of the 10k course used city streets and about one quarter of the 5k, with the rest on greenways.

“Having the rescue squad here really frees things up for us,” Inman added. “Their volunteers are everywhere. At every corner.”

One of the streets in the race course is known by some runners as “the defining moment.” Others call it simply “The Hill.” Boaz called it “French Fry Hill.”

The street in question is the block of Independence Boulevard from Riverside Drive to Renfro Street which is indeed quite a hill. And a big McDonald’s sign indicates there are French fries at the top.

Ben Royster said, “You see it coming for half a mile before you get to it.”

“You know the end is coming, but you have to get through it,” added Mark Royster.

Angie Cagle, a United Fund board member said, “We had complaints about the hill. But we took a survey and most people wanted to keep it. So we did.”

“It’s a great course,” said Mark Royster.

After all the running was done, and medals were about to be handed out, Boaz said, “You didn’t just make it up French Fry Hill, you made it up quickly.

“You didn’t just run for yourself or your family. You also ran for the 32,000 people who will be helped by United Fund of Surry this year.”

In the 5k, Erick Ramirez-Ramos, Dobson, 17, placed 1st with a time of 17:27, Samuel Haynes, Cana, Virginia, 20, placed 2nd with a time of 18:03, and Tyler Barrett, Hillsville, Virginia, 21, placed 3rd with a time of 18:40.

Among female runners in the 5K, Sydney Haynes, Cana, Va., 19, placed 1st with a time of 21:06, Alison Bryant, Elkin, 39, placed 2nd with a time of 23:12, and Chloe Fountain, Hickory, 17, placed 3rd with a time of 24:01.

In the 10k, Ediberto Crisanto, Rock Hill, S.C., 25, placed 1st with a time of 36:01, Austin Eaton, Ararat, Virginia, 15, placed 2nd with a time of 39:37, and Nathan Beamguard, Hamptonville, 46, placed third with a time of 40:19.

Among female runners in the 10k, Alicia Rider, Winston-Salem, 37, placed first with a time of 44:49, Nicole Harrison, Mount Airy, 32, placed 2nd with a time of 50:49, and Samantha Monk, Mount Airy, placed 3rd with a time of 51:09.

Detailed stats can be found at