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  • The Mount Airy News

    Ernest T. Bass to aid United Fund campaign

    By Ryan Kelly,


    Organizers announced that the Sixteenth Annual Downtown Rocks and Runs is “only a stone’s throw away.”

    The date has been set for and an appropriate Mayberry theme selected for the fundraising event that benefits the United Fund of Surry.

    This year’s race is themed as “It’s Me, It’s Ernest T.” which event coordinators said is a fun play on Mayberry resident and ne’er-do-well Ernest T. Bass.

    The races take place in downtown Mount Airy bright and early at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, August 10, meaning there is still plenty of time to get registered for an individual race or get together a workplace team to compete as a group.

    Downtown Rocks and Runs marks the kickoff to the 2024-2025 United Fund Campaign. Last year the campaign was led by Traci George who has been tasked with duplicating her success again.

    Back in May, representatives of the member organizations of the United Fund of Surry met in the group’s offices overlooking Main Street to celebrate another successful campaign. Executive Director Melissa Hiatt and George congratulated all those who helped them beat the goal of last year’s campaign by raising more than $559,000.

    For those looking forward to taking part in one of the several races that will occur during Rocks and Runs, there are several dates to keep in mind as summer days tick by. Among those is the window for online registration for the event which runs right up until race day, August 10.

    As always, there are several ways to participate in the day of races that benefit the United Fund of Surry and its members organizations including a 5K, 10K, a 5K Team Challenge. Walkers and strollers are welcome in the 5K according to event organizers.

    In the team competition, participants can sign up for the 5K walk/run and the award will be presented to the fastest team based on the average of the top five team members. Team members are not limited to winning at the team level and their times will still qualify them for individual race awards atop the team prize.

    In the online registration portal, those who want to participate in the group challenge will select the 5K race and then choose the option to either “Create a New Team” or “Join an Existing Team” during the registration process.

    There also is a 5K and 10K corporate participation challenge where runners and walkers can, “Show your company’s pride and commitment to health and fitness.” The organization with the highest number of Downtown Rocks and Runs participants will receive the Corporate Participation Challenge Trophy which they can then display at their place of business for the following year.

    There is a separate selection for the Corporate Challenge on the registration website and participants will again need to either create their corporate team or find the correct one to join.

    For those who have not been to or raced in the Rocks and Runs, a map of the course can be found at

    Runners and walkers will line up at the starting line on Cherry Street in downtown Mount Airy before connecting to the Greenway for a chunk of the run before doubling back to Riverside Park. From there, it will be time to attack the hill coming up Independence Boulevard from the park before turning down Main Street to the finish line back near the Municipal Building.

    Prizes are available including a top prize of $250 for the first finishing female and male participant in both the 5K and 10K. Individual awards will be given to the top three finishers based on their age division. Brackets are 13 and under, age 14-19, 20-29, and so on, with a 70 and up group rounding out the divisions.

    For kids under the age of 12 there will also be a Fun Run that, despite its name, sees a fair amount of good-hearted competition from the youngest runners — all of whom will get a ribbon for participating.

    Some folks take the competition element of Downtown Rocks and Runs seriously, even using it as a tune up for future races. To that end, the 5K and 10K will have a gun start and chip timed finish.

    This means all participants will have the same start time and the finish will be recorded as each runner crosses the line using a chip on the runner’s bib to keep track of who placed where. Timing services for Downtown Rocks and Runs are provided again this year by Go! Sports Timing and Events.

    Early registration is recommended and those who register before July 14 are assured both an “awesome event t-shirt and the best good bag around.”

    Registration fees for the event are lower during the early registration period which runs through July 28. For the 5K, Team Fitness Challenge, and Corporate Participation Challenge early registration is $35; standard registration between July 29 to August 12 will be $40.

    For the 10K Individual or Corporate Participation Challenge, early registration is $40 while standard registration will be $45.

    Find more information at

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