Running for Liberty
5k aids revitalization push
It was a different kind of flight at Smith Reynolds Airport Saturday, as runners took off down the tarmac for the Run for Liberty 5k.
It was the second year the Liberty Community Development Corporation held the 5k to raises money for and awareness of its efforts to revitalize the Liberty Street Corridor “one brick at a time.” The CDC also annually hosts an outdoor physical challenge between local cops and firefighters and a youth aviation camp at Smith Reynolds. Shaw says all the activities are designed to attract positive attention for Liberty Street, which, in its heyday, was the city’s main thoroughfare.
About 60 people tackled the 5k course, which left the runway and looped around sections of Liberty and Fairchild Road before returning to Smith Reynolds. Ranging in age from 12 to 66, participants ranged from experienced runners to novice walkers, some of whom took their pets along for the journey.
Some, like Assistant City Managers Martha Wheelock (who will soon take the town manager job in Morrisville) and Derwick Paige, took part to support the CDC’s efforts; others, like Jacob Smith, came to hone their running ability.
A member of the High Point University track squad, Smith already had skills good enough to win first place honors Saturday. He said he enjoyed the unique experience the 5k offered.
“It’s a great course. I like running on the tarmac, that’s pretty cool,” he said.
Richard and Claudia Eller of Hickory said the airport’s history attracted them. Richard, who teaches history at Catawba Valley Community College, made “Speedbird,” a documentary about Piedmont Airlines, which began at Smith Reynolds Airport in 1940 and grew into a major carrier before being absorbed by US Airways in 1989.
“He loves Winston and Piedmont Airlines,” Claudia said. “To get to run run around an airport he did a documentary about, it’s kind of cool.”
Richard’s day was made even sweeter when he won free flight lessons from Piedmont Flight Training in a raffle for the runners.
Run for Liberty was the very first 5k for Scott Piper, a Kernersville resident and member of the Airport Commission of Forsyth County. He trained for three months in preparation.
“I had three goals: don’t get hurt, don’t be last and don’t have to stop to walk,” said Piper, who fulfilled all three goals Saturday.
Many participants – including Piper and William Penn Jr., a Winston-Salem Police sergeant and avid runner – had high praise for the CDC’s achievements and its leader, Shaw.
Penn, who loved the 5k’s “nice scenic route,” has been a Liberty CDC Board member for several years and is a regular participant in the CDC’s cops vs. firefighters challenge. He said all the CDC’s hard work is paying off in a very noticeable way.
“If you ride by Liberty Street, you see newer businesses, you actually see construction in the area, so that’s definitely progress,” Penn said.
Construction is now afoot along the corridor on a pair of park-like shelters that CDC officials say will be used by vendors like local farmers and growers. It will open in November.
Advances aside, Shaw said there is still much work to be done to restore Liberty Street to its former glory.“In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, Liberty Street was almost like Stratford Road; we had all kinds of businesses. We hope that one day we can get it back to its potential,” he said.