If you're a local runner, when the gun fires at the beginning of this year's Holly Springs 4 at 4 road race you'll want your toes on the starting line.
This year's four-mile race begins Oct. 11 at 4 p.m. and combines a new course with live music, post-race food and a 100-yard run for children. The race supports local foundation Meg's Smile.
"It's a fun community event geared toward families that helps a great cause," said David Mallard, recreation programs manager with the Holly Springs Parks and Recreation Department, which is hosting the event.
While this year's event will mark the third annual 4 at 4 race, the Holly Springs Parks and Recreation Department has been hosting an annual road race for years, beginning with a 5k event at the annual Town festival.
This year's course is new; the race begins and ends at Sugg Farm Park. Mostly paved, the course travels along rolling hills through Womble Park, along a paved greenway to Bass Lake Park and then back to Sugg Farm. In previous years, the course began at the Cultural Center downtown.
"We anticipate a bigger event with more participants, and we wanted to change the course to keep it interesting," Mallard said.
Registration is open for the event. (Click here to register online.) With the $35 entry fee, participants receive a drink and food ticket. Race T-shirts are guaranteed to people who register by Sept. 12. Online registration closes Oct. 9, but race day registration will be available for $40.
Pre-race activities include live music by classic rock group Nine Times Around beginning at 3 p.m. A tot trot hosted by the Primrose School also will be held before the race. Children can participate for free and do not need to register in advance. After the race, food prepared by Homegrown Pizza will be provided for runners, and additional food prepared by the Holly Springs Fire Department will be available for sale.
Meg's Smile Foundation is a local charitable organization with a mission to bring smiles to the faces of children with serious illnesses. It was established by Meg’s parents after their daughter died in 2011 from a brain tumor.
"Meg's parents have helped us out with the race going back about eight years," Mallard said. "Meg had a rare brain tumor. We saw it affect their family, and now we want to help support other families."
In addition to hosting the event, the Town also is providing assistance along the race course. Other sponsors include BB&T, Wake Futbol Club and Omega Sports, which is providing awards for the top finishers in various categories.
The Parks and Recreation Department's cross country club for ages 9-14 is preparing about 35 participants for the race. Coached by Kimberly Henry, the program helps youth athletes build endurance, improve running form, and learn about nutrition and hydration.