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The History of the South Carolina Road Race
The first SC Peach Festival in Cherokee County was held as a one day event in 1977. The next year, Dr. Nathan Lipscomb started the road race. The first race, a 10k run, was held in July and started at 5pm. It was an out and back course starting and finishing at Midway Recreational Park. Dr. Lipscomb was the director for two years before Lamar Lipscomb, then head of the Bank of Gaffney and sponsor of the road race, asked Herb Smith and Ronald Barrett to co-direct the race. Mr. Lipscomb accurately measured the 10k to qualify as a sanctioned course taking the participants along College Drive, Johnson St, Buford St, Limestone St, O’Neal St, Petty St and back to College Drive. Mr. Lipscomb added the 5k run and one mile events to the 10k. The start time did change to the somewhat cooler July morning. Mr. Smith and Dr. Barrett, as race directors, organized the events until 1988 or 1990. Dr. Barrett not only directed the planning of the road races, he also ran along with the other participants. A newspaper advertisement was found calling the July 13, 1996, event Run for the Peaches. The event was described as a 5,000 meter and 1 mile run with Dr. Barrett and Les Gregory contact representatives. Don Bridges helped throughout the years of the road race. Following Dr. Barrett and Mr. Smith, Robbie Sparks held the director’s position. Steve Wilson then filled the role. No one, however, has the records of winning times for these early years. The 5k course that was certified through the US Track and Field more than ten years ago and was recertified for the 2012 road race. The wish of past race director Marc Quick to have the current 10k course certified became a reality for the 2013 event. Marc served as director from 1998 through 2000. Marc worked with the Spartanburg Running Club to organize and get the word out. He has stayed active on the road race team serving along with Carlton Bridges who held the race director position from 2001 through 2007. Carlton brought back the 10k, which had been discontinued for a few years. In 2007 Livia Hazlette worked closely with Carlton and Marc to learn the role of SC Peach Festival Road Race Director. She became race director in 2008. The 2015 Festival Road Race will be Livia’s 8th and final year as race director. Shannon Wylie is working with Livia during the 2015 festival year to learn the detailed planning before she assumes the Director of the SC Peach Festival Road Race for the 2016 Festival.
The decision in 2008 to add walkers to the 5k Dash/run and combine the 5k Dash, 5k Walk and 10k run to start at the same time, 7:30 am, met with some hesitation but overall acceptance. Participation over the years has steadily increased with the cooperation of the community where the runners and walkers take to the streets. The 5k and 10k 1st through 3rd place finishers receive cash prizes for two age levels. All participants receive a participants ribbon and are entered in a random drawing to receive gift cards and products from area businesses.
The Kids Run event is extremely popular with first time enthusiasts, many competing alongside their parents. The 2014 event changed from a 1 mile fun run to an about a 1k fun run to loop around O’Neal along Limestone College turning left onto Griffith Street to then head downhill to the finish line at O’Neal and Griffith Streets. Trophies are provided for the Kids Run in four age group categories starting at 6 years and under through age 16.
A big technical improvement occurred in 2011 by adding computer chip timing for each participant. This allows quick finish line results.
Many area organizations and businesses support the road race by providing items for the participant bags that are given to those who sign up early and provide the after the race food. The sponsorship support is noted on the SC Peach Festival website. The Road Race values the volunteer support received from family members, friends, employees of sponsors, the Gaffney High School ROTC, C.A.R.E.S, Gaffney Law Enforcement, EMS, and the SC Peach Festival Board Members and their families. Their support is priceless and a “Thank You” never seems enough.
The Road Race attracts participants from local communities, all across the state of South Carolina, along with surrounding states and those from states further away. A continuing goal for the Road Race is to promote Cherokee County and the runners and walkers striving for a healthy life style.