Local Races for 2020

A runner friend recently asked me to look up some local races and send her links so she can arrange a visit and a run at the same time.  This seemed like something that might be useful for others too so here are the coming race links that I sent her.  I used to run and I’ll include some pictures from past races where I have them.

April 4th – Miles in Martinsville Half Marathon & 5K

This may be the biggest race in the immediate area.  The half marathon runs on the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail and the 5K runs through Uptown.  There is also a walk for the non-running crowd.  There is also a full line up of events the day before:

3 PM Tech Session: Running Form 101: Proper Running Mechanics for Injury Prevention and Longevity in the Sport

4 PM Tech Session: You Go Girl: Fitness for Women from Puberty through Postmenopause

5 PM Meet & Mingle

5:30 PM Pasta Buffet Dinner

7 to 8 PM After Dinner Speaker Bart Yasso

Running hoofing it through Martinsville Uptown as part of the Miles in Martinsville 5K
Running Through Uptown

 

A sign post along the Dick & Willie Trails shows that it is a well maintained trail.
The Dick & Willie Trail is the Martinsville equivalent to the Katy Trail in Dallas
April 18th – Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

This is a hard one but a big one and a Boston qualifier, I think.  It is called the “Toughest Road Marathon” with over 7,430 feet of elevation change.  For my friend who has run Boston at least twice, the nice thing about this is that we can explore Roanoke afterwards. If you can still walk.

May 2 – SOVAH Super Run 5K & 8K

This one runs through the Druid Hills/Forest Park residential neighborhood in Martinsville around the private Lake Lanier.  I haven’t run this one but I have run the Great Goblin Gallop 5K around Lake Lanier, which is very pretty.  The Goblin Gallop is held each year in October and is put on by Henry County.  This route in May should be very green and anything that flowers should be out in full force.

Runners along Lake Lanier in the Great Goblin Gallop 5K Held each fall by Henry County
Running Along Lake Lanier in the Great Goblin Gallop
May 16 – Strawberry Festival 5K?

There has been a 5K just before the annual Strawberry Festival for the past few years but I’m not seeing updated info about one for 2020.  Too early?

The nice thing about the Stuart Festival races is that they end just as the festivals start up and the festivals are definitely worth visiting.

Strawberry Festival has a lot of vendors and is held in uptown Stuart with a backdrop of forested foothills
Photo from a past Strawberry Festival
June 20 – The Covered Bridge 5K

The Covered Bridge 5K is arguably one of the prettiest runs in the area.  The area around Woolwine had two historic covered bridges – Jack’s Creek and the Bob White bridge.  Unfortunately, the more impressive of the two, the Bob White bridge, was washed away by heavy rains a few years ago.  Still, there is a  small festival that goes along with the 5K and the landscape is absolutely stunning.  They haven’t updated their web site yet but the Patrick County website shows the new date to be June 20th.  Of all the area races, this would be my top pick for showing off the natural beauty of this corner of Virginia.

Runners starting out on the Covered Bridge 5K. Photo shows the race on a paved two lane road with the Blue Ridge in the distance.
Runners Starting Out on the Covered Bridge 5K

And, yes, there are hills but they really aren’t all that bad.

Nearing the end of the race, photo shows lush greenery and low clouds in the distance.
Nearing the End of the Covered Bridge 5K
August 15 – The Martinsville Speedway Mile

I haven’t been to this one but it looks to be more competitive with two laps around the famous Martinsville Speedway looking for a pace of a six-and-a-half minute mile.  There is a non-competitive walk too.

August 22nd – Smith River Festival Helgramite Mud Run 

This one is part of the Smith River Festival and there are all kinds of events going on as part of the festival.  There’s, of course, the vendor booths, but there is also a rubber duck race down the river and a boat race.  Unless it rains, this one has a very high chance of fun. I’ve attended the festival once but it rained and they shut down early so I don’t have any photos.

October 2 – Harvest Moon Run 5K & 10K & Dancing on the Depot

The Harvest Moon run meets at the trailhead for the Uptown Connection Trail and is run entirely on the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail.  Weather can be iffy.  It generally always seem to threaten rain but then holds off enough for the run.  There is food and music but the turn out for the Dancing on the Depot is generally small, consisting of runners and their friends and family.  The race is he central focus and the trail is beautiful.

Runners lined up for instructions at the Harvest Moon. Setting is on the edge of Uptown and gray clouds hang overhead.
Runners Receiving Instructions at Start of Harvest Moon

So this list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve left out Danville, which is close and has an active race calendar. I’ve also left out most of Roanoke and all of Greensboro.  I also left off some later in the year.

Be it as it is, these are the races I’ve suggested to my runner friend.

Until next time,

Have fun

It’s Spring Again. Maybe.

The average temperatures for this area in April should be mid 70’s in the daytime and mid 40’s at night.  Talk is that, this year, we’ve been paying for having a warm February and winter has made several encore performances.  Still, it officially became spring on March 20th this year and the local festival season is starting to gear up.

There is exciting stuff going on over at the Fieldale Recreation Center (check their Facebook page for updates) and they had a bingo & Pampered Chef fundraiser this past weekend.  Martinsville Bulletin made an excellent write-up in this April 5th article, “Construction Starts on Bassett, Fieldale Renovation Projects“.

This coming weekend is the annual Pig Cookin’ Contest and Craft Fair at Spencer Penn.  Come Friday night to see the cooking and listen to live bluegrass.  Then come back on Saturday to shop the vendors, see the classic cars, and maybe play some cow-patty bingo.

In getting my camera ready, I realized that I never posted about our last festival for 2017.  It was a new one for us … the “What the Hay Festival” in nearby Mayodan, North Carolina.

We shop in Mayodan quite a bit because it is very close (around 20 minutes), there’s not a lot of traffic (it’s amazing how relative that gets), and their Food Lion has had one of the better craft beer selections around (it’s the closest place to get DuClaw).  Big round bales of hay started popping up all over town decorated as all kinds of creatures in the weeks leading up to the festival. They did an excellent job with those.

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There were decorative hay bales all over town before the festival

Mayodan has essentially a one-light intersection downtown but downtowns don’t have to be big to have an ambience.  Mayodan has a particularly pretty downtown with old brick buildings on all four corners.  On the day of the festival, they closed the road that ran through it and set up just a humdinger of a small town festival.

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Entering the festival grounds

In the center of the intersection, they set up a soundstage and people brought chairs to sit and listen to the music. The little shop that you can see on the left in the photo below is the Mayodan Arts Center. It’s sells a variety of arts and crafts made by local people – pottery, painted glassware, photographs, bookmarks, stationery, and more.  We ended up getting a few Christmas gifts from them and definitely plan to go back.

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Live Music in the Intersection

They had a full midway set up for the kids and vendors in tents filled in any space that was left on the streets. Mother got her flu shot at one tent.

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It was a great little festival.  We also discovered Charlie’s Soap Outlet Store & Cedar Mountain Country Store nestled in the shops along one side of the road. As the name implies, they have Charlie’s Soap but they also have all kinds of knick-knacks for the home and seasonal decorations.  If you talk to the shop owners, they’ll open up a second building with metal yard art/sculptures.  We are fans.

In short, we loved the festival and we love Mayodan.  There’s a lot to see there, I think, and I want to go back when it gets warmer and just spend some time looking around. Perhaps I can find more remembrances like this monument to Mayodan veterans. The engraving on this monument says, “This WWI mortar was originally dedicated to Mayodan veterans of that war. It was rededictated to all Mayodan veterans November 11, 2001”.

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This WWI Mortar is dedicated to all Mayodan veterans

So, I’m already planning to spend an afternoon in Mayodan sometime when it gets warm (if that ever happens again).  What other unique finds should I look for? Any great boutiques?

Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition

Every year, just before the leaves begin to make a serious effort to start changing (we’ve got about two more weeks for that), the community of Spencer throws an annual community fair.  2017 marked the 81st annual fair.  The local Ruritan Club Building opens its doors from 10 to 6, serving up huge bowls of Brunswick stew, plates loaded with fried chicken, and homemade desserts. Continue reading “Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition”

Stuart’s Rail Trail & Apple Dumpling Festival

Who knew that rail trails would eventually become a thing?   Just recently, we went out to bicycle down the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail in Damascus and I’ve blogged about a 5K/10K on the Dick & Willie Rail Trail in Martinsville. This weekend was the annual Apple Dumpling Festival in downtown Stuart and this year it was kicked off by a 5K on Stuart’s rail trail, the Mayo River Rail Trail.   Continue reading “Stuart’s Rail Trail & Apple Dumpling Festival”

The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum

Some of the prettiest pictures I have of Virginia in the fall are from the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Virginia.

These are photos that I took last year when the leaves were at their peak.  They are a little bit behind schedule this year and I’m afraid that I’ll miss this year’s festival so it’s been on my mind the last couple of days.   Continue reading “The Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum”

It’s Peach Time in the Blue Ridge

Every year about this time, there is a Peach Festival in Stuart on a Friday evening followed by a Folk Fair in Meadows of Dan on Saturday.  We have still not made it to the Peach Festival in Stuart yet.  The first year, I didn’t realize that it was on Friday night. The second year, I figured it out too late.  This year, it rained.

Somehow I have no trouble making it to the Folk Fair in Meadows of Dan.  Maybe because I just love Meadows of Dan.  I mean I really love Meadows of Dan.  It sits at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway and is just the cutest little community.

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Fresh Homemade Peach Cobbler a la Mode

We go up to the Poor Farmers Market here quite a bit and I love following them on Facebook. The owner posts a lot of pictures from Meadows of Dan as well as historical tidbits and news of business for the area. This is where we discovered white sweet potatoes which are, possibly, the perfect food.  They taste like regular sweet potatoes but have the look and consistency of regular white potatoes. Who know that a vegetable could be so interesting?

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Poor Farmers Market in Meadows of Dan

The store is full of souvenirs – autographed books by local authors, t-shirts, cast iron cookware, holiday ideas, jams and jellies, and every little odd assortment of things that you can imagine. There is a deli counter and ice cream in the back and a covered sitting spot to eat.  Today, they had the most colorful metal yard art shaped like roses, bird houses, and huge roosters. You just never know what you’ll find at Poor Farmers Market besides white sweet potatoes (and peaches).

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Yard Art at Poor Farmers Market in Meadows of Dan

Jim Lord played live music out on the stage at the back of the parking lot and a few vendors were scattered about.  The bulk of the vendor tents were set up down the road by the Community Center but this is where I wanted to be.

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Jim Lord Live at Poor Farmers Market

Just across the street from Poor Farmers Market is The Meadows Mercantile. It’s a long building that looks vaguely western.  You can enter on either end of the building which is divided into four rooms and filled to the brim with souvenirs and everything Christmas.  They have a fantastic selection of t-shirts right now.  We bought three and I’ve already admitted that I am going to have to go back to get the one that says “The Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go”.

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Great Selection of T-Shirts at Meadows Mercantile, Meadows of Dan

Two of the rooms are souvenir-type things and then the next two rooms are all Christmas.  Ornaments. Trees.  Nativities.  You name it.  Mother got her very first Virginia Christmas ornament – of a black bear. (She keeps wanting to put out food scraps for “critters” but we have chickens and just about all “critters” eat chickens.  I told her that is not outside the realm of possibility that she could attract a black bear by doing this.  So far, that seems to have worked.)

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It’s Always Christmas at Meadows Mercantile in Meadows of Dan

The Meadows of Dan community lost a significant landmark last year.  The Meadows of Dan Baptist Church burned to the ground on March 5, 2015.  Poor Farmers Market has photos of the fire on their Facebook page. It was so sad. Such an incredible loss for the community. Proceeds from the peach cobbler sale will go to rebuild.

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Meadows of Dan Baptist Church – Burned March 5, 2015

They’ve had a new addition to the community in the Toy Time Folk Toy & Science Museum.  The museum has a TripAdvisor badge on their door and they are already up to #8 of 11 things to do in Meadows of Dan.  They’ll have stiff competition for the top spot with Mabry Mill, Nancy’s Candy Company, and Primland but I think that they are going to be very popular.

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The New Toy Time Museum in Meadows of Dan

The building used to be a gun and knife store, hence the bars that make it look like an old jail inside.  Before that, it was a general store.  Now, toys and puzzles line the walls and invite people to play with them to see how they work.  I was able to operate the dreidel, putting me on a technical skill level with, I think, a five year old, but we needed help with a lot of the displays.  One of the employees helped us operate several of the toys, including a chair that would raise you up by compressing air in a vacuum tube next to it.  At least, I think that was how it worked. Compared to other science museums I’ve seen like this, it’s really engaging and there is a lot to see and do.  Kids will absolutely love it and adults are going to enjoy themselves too.

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A Toy Time Employee Demonstrates A Vacuum Chair

After the Folk Toy and Science Museum, we decided to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and investigate an old country store  I had read about in “This Old Store”, the Mayberry Trading Post.

There’s a preview of the book available on Amazon.

It’s a very readable, short book.  Apart from the history of the store, it gives the history of the area and spends some time on several notable personalities that lived here. The community of Mayberry has dwindled to just a few souls but the country store is still there and open for business.  Interesting note in the book (page 89), Andy Griffith’s mother had relatives here when he was a boy and he had come to Mayberry to visit them back in the day. “Information such as this”, the book says, “makes a pretty strong circumstantial case for this place here being the source of the name of the television Mayberry, if not a documentable one.”

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Mayberry Trading Post on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I’ve since read that many places compete for being the source of the name of the idylized small town of Tinsel Town fame.  Whether it is or not is probably moot at this point.  Whether it is the town, or not, I mean.  It is indisputably a remnant of the past that many of us have romanticized in a nostalgic fervor so that it is like Brigadoon, a small village protected from the ravages of change by an enchantment that hides it away from the world for a hundred years each night as the villagers sleep.

I read once that the reason that vintage Victorian clothes are so important is that there were only so many made (by nature of definition). Once they are gone,  and they can’t last forever, that’s it.  You can’t make more genuine articles. Old country stores like this are the same, I think. If you are of the same mind, I think that you would really like stopping by. And buy a shirt or a hoodie, or a jar of jam … just to keep the lights on.

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Inside the Mayberry Trading Post

It was a rainy day but we managed to grab some shots at Lover’s Leap on the way up. We actually went to Fred Clifton Park, right next to the outlook, which I believe has better views.

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Look Out at Fred Clifton Park

This is one of the views from Fred Clifton Park.  It’s pretty much the same view as from Lover’s Leap but with more room to stand. The local legend is that a white settler and an native American maiden, shunned by both sides for their love, leapt from here into the valley below.  It’s a popular story for a lot of places, so I have my doubts.  It is a breathtaking view though.  The camera couldn’t capture it but there are farms and vineyards down in that valley.  It’s truly gorgeous.

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View From Fred Clifton Park

I’ll close with this shot of Mother taking in the view.  I think that she is really liking it here.

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Another Texan Falling In Love With Virginia?