The second annual Downtown Dash 5K & Fun Run is poised to be bigger and better, as the event born out of the desire to attract more visitors to downtown Clinton is anticipated to again do just that — bring walkers and runners from across the county, state and beyond to the heart of Sampson the morning of this Saturday’s Court Square Street Fair and Barbecue Cook-off.
“Once again I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our sponsors and the community for the second annual Downtown Dash 5K,” said Downtown Dash chairwoman Alison Bradshaw. “Our goal is to bring people to downtown Clinton and to give back to our downtown by way of purchasing things that will enhance the city for its residents and visitors.”
Proceeds from the Downtown Dash are used for enhancement projects in downtown Clinton. Representatives from the Downtown Dash 5K Committee earlier this year presented a check to Mayor Lew Starling and Clinton Development Corporation President Beth Stewart in the amount of $1,216, the proceeds from the 2012 event that funded a sturdy picnic table for the tree park at City Market, a popular gathering spot.
“The picnic table purchased with last year’s proceeds has been a huge hit and it is exciting to see families picnicking and people using it at Alive After Five,” said Bradshaw. “Our committee has been dedicated to finding ways to improve the event and draw participants from the region. We are excited to see registrants coming from Charlotte, Virginia, and even New York, to this year’s event.”
This year, the committee has partnered with race management company Run The East to provide chip timing and other features to race participants. The 5K route begins and ends in the parking lot on Vance Street near Fisher Drive, and passes through some of the neighborhoods surrounding downtown, as well as by the art piece, “Milling Around.”
The race begins at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday, Oct. 12. Registration for the race includes a T-shirt and is $30 through Friday, Oct. 11 and $35 on race day. Registration for the fun-run is free and does not include a T-shirt. Online registration is available until Friday at www.tinyurl.com/downtowndash5k. Race-day registration will take place in the Vance Street parking lot from 7-8 a.m. Oct. 12.
Huff Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine is again the title sponsor for the event. Joined by 15 other sponsors in helping fund last year’s event, Downtown Dash had not only seen the amount of sponsors grow to Huff plus two dozen, but the number of participants looks to rise also. There were already 130 signed up as of the end of last week. With still a week to sign up and many more expected to register the day of the Dash, last year’s whopping first-year total of 160 participants — only half that were expected — could easily be surpassed.
The event is Clinton through and through. Along with raising money to supplement the city’s efforts to improve the downtown with various amenities, the Downtown Dash logo incorporating millstones to reflect the new art piece and reference the community’s agricultural heritage.
Bradshaw said committee members have been glad to have the opportunity to work with the Street Fair Steering Committee to integrate the Downtown Dash into all the other activities of the day. The structure of Saturday’s schedule allows visitors to participate in a wide variety of activities without missing anything — the race occurs in the morning, followed by the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk, Sampson Regional Medical Center Care Fair, art activities, Festival de la Calle, Craft Demonstration Day and all the fair’s corresponding activities.
Downtown Dash committee members said they were happy to see downtown Clinton be the home for another great, and healthy, event.
“When I heard about the thought of bringing a 5K race to Clinton I knew I wanted to help,” said Eric Nance. “With my job and passion for fitness I wanted to share my enthusiasm in helping anyway I could. The planning has been fun and challenging, but I think we have the right people for the job. The race will be fun, and the good thing is that it’s for all types of fitness levels.”
Committee member Erika Starling said the Dash was “a way for the residents of Clinton and Sampson County to get up, get moving and get healthy.” Fellow committee member Jeff Smith agreed, crediting Bradshaw’s leadership and noting that the planning of the event has been a labor of love — an event he is glad is able to benefit the local community.
“It feels really good to promote healthy activities and then see the proceeds benefit the town of Clinton,”said Smith.
Audrey Whetten, former planner for the Clinton-Sampson Planning Department who assisted in putting on last year’s inaugural event, said she was proud to be a part of it even though she was no longer in Clinton, having moved on to another job in Shelby this summer.
“We have a dedicated committee working hard to make this event even better this year, and great sponsors that are making that possible,” she said. “We’ve gotten great support from the community and I’m excited that the event will draw visitors from across the state and region.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.