Pinecrest to Host Benefit 5K
This year’s local Independence Day celebration will kick off with a 5K run to benefit wounded veterans and the Pinecrest running programs.
The Patriot 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run will be held the morning of July 4 at Pinecrest High School. Half the proceeds will go to Operation One Voice, an organization that services wounded special operations soldiers and their families. The other half of the proceeds will go to the Pinecrest cross country and track teams.
Operation One Voice is a nonprofit that was started by police officers and firefighters after 9/11 to serve fallen and wounded special operations forces and their families. Lt. Bill Stevens, of the Duluth (Ga.) Police Department, is the organization’s founder.
“We’re there to fill the gaps and make sure these families don’t fall through the cracks,” Lt. Stevens said. Since the organization was founded, Operation One Voice has provided more than $580,000 to 2,800 families nationwide.
John Buchholz, head coach of the Pinecrest girls’ cross country and track teams, said the choice to support Operation One Voice made sense, given the proximity to Fort Bragg and the number of military families involved in Pinecrest running.
“The Fourth is a very patriotic day,” Buchholz said. “This is a way to recognize the soldiers and tell them thank you for fighting for this country.”
The 3.1-mile course has been certified by USA Track & Field. Beginning in front of Robert E. Lee Auditorium, the course runs along Voit Gilmore Lane and Knoll Road, with two turnaround points before finishing where it began in front of the auditorium.
Some of the Pinecrest cross country runners might join the fray as leaders of specific pace groups, allowing racers to be sure of running at a specific per-mile tempo. The goal of these groups is help participants reach their goals.
“When the kids step on that start line, it’s serious; its business,” race director Amy Killam said. “They’ll be willing to go as fast any runner wants them to go. So far no one has come to us and said, ‘Hey, I want to run this time.’
“It’s a shame because we certainly have kids who would love to help them do that.”
Buchholz said they’ve cleared everything with both the N.C. Department of Transportation and Southern Pines Parks and Recreation and have all the safety aspects covered. The race will feature water stations on the course and at the finish line.
Overall winners for the men’s and women’s races and the corresponding master’s divisions will receive trophies. The top three finishers in each age division will receive awards. The first 200 finishers will also receive medals.
Although a similar race — the Firecracker 5k—was held in early July last year as a benefit for the Pinecrest football team, this is the first official running of the Patriot 5k.
Killam has led the organizing, finalizing and promoting for the event. When the Firecracker 5k decided in early May to give up the date, she had about two months to put together the Patriot 5k.
“I had spoken to other race directors when I started planning,” Killam said. “They told me I would need six to eight months to plan this race. Lots of folks have worked really, really hard to put this race together.”
“She’s been a godsend on this,” said Buchholz.
Killam would like to see this event become something embraced and supported by the community.
“I’d love to have members of the community come out and help,” Killam said. “Even if they just pass out water at the finish line, or stand on the side of the road and cheer. The thing that impresses me the most when I travel to run is the amount of spectators; it’s very encouraging. If nothing else, I’d love for members to come out and just be encouraging.”
Registration is available both online and through mail-in packets. Registration packets can be picked up at Di’lishi Frozen Yogurt Bar, Nutrishop Southern Pines, and Cabin Branch Tack Shop.
Entry fees are $25 for the 5K and $20 for the one-mile run. Members of any school running program may register at a discounted rate of $15. Race day registration will be available.
Sarah Brown contributed reporting to this story.
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