ELIZABETHTOWN — The cool temperatures Saturday morning dampened neither body nor spirit when athletes from around the county gathered for the Elizabethtown Rotary Club’s third annual 8K Trail Run and Walk to benefit the USO of N.C. at Brown’s Creek Park.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people,” said Renee Horton, Rotary Club president. “We had a large turnout from Fort Bragg, it was a beautiful morning, and overall, it was a very positive event.”
Elizabethtown Mayor Sylvia Campbell, Horton and representatives from both the USO and the military welcomed everyone to the event and thanked them for their participation and their support. The town of Elizabethtown presented to the USO gift baskets of local goodies.
Children were treated to face painting, balloon art, magic tricks, and a pet dove by Joy the Clown from Fayetteville. The Elizabethtown Fire Department also entertained children with competitions and games. The USO brought a mobile unit that seated 25 people with TV’s, music, and a gaming center. Race participants and spectators alike were served hot coffee.
Runners and walkers made their best effort to finish the 5-mile course, which was broken up into segments of 2.5 miles and two 1-mile legs for three-person relay teams.
“We heard positive things,” Horton stated. “One gentlemen from Fort Bragg — a retired gentlemen — complimented the trail and said that he was impressed with the venue; someone else told us how challenging it was.”
In the end, the following people emerged the victors:
— Women’s Division Overall: 1-Caitlin Cavanaugh, with a time of 41 minutes 10 seconds; 2-Kimberly Slode, with a time of 44 minutes 11 seconds; 3-Molly Cherry, with a time of 46 minutes 48 seconds.
— Men’s Division Overall: 1-Jason Bryant with a time of 36 minutes 41 seconds; 2-Dan Meeks, with a time of 36 minutes 41 seconds; 3-Dean Hilton, with a time of 38 minutes 33 seconds.
— Youth Division Overall: 1-Gracyn Martin, with a time of 48 minutes 23 seconds; 2-Caleb Williams, with a time of 50 minutes 32 seconds; 3-Karson Shugart, with a time of 53 minutes 47 seconds.
The winning relay team consisted of Eddie Madden, Elliott Madden and Wes Johnson.
“It’s growing every year,” said Horton. “Ford of Clinton and Healthworks Fitness & Wellness in Elizabethtown were our platinum sponsors, so we want to recognize them. The USO reached out to us and was very appreciative of the outstanding hospitality they received and of the planning that went into it.”
The USO of N.C. serves the fourth largest military population in the U.S., touching more than 575,000 lives annually, helping service members and their families through education, wellness, transition assistance and resiliency programs across the state.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.