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Beat the Heat 5K History 1989-present
The Beat the Heat 5K began in 1989 as the Coors Lite Saturday Night Fever 5K. It oﬀered an alternative to the early morning races with an evening schedule and a social atmosphere afterwards. It was modeled after a similar event in Greensboro, the Tavern Tour. In the ﬁrst year The Saturday Night Fever 5K drew 335 ﬁnishers.
In 1990 Planters, whose headquarters was located next to the race course became the ﬁnancial sponsor and assisted with promotion. The race was renamed the Planters Saturday Night Fever 5K and drew 423 participants. In 1991, when Planter’s launched their Munch ‘n Go product line, the race became the Planters Munch ‘n Go 5K Road Race. Enhanced promotion brought in 723 participants and numerous spectators. Over the next ﬁve years the race continued to draw 700+ 5K runners and 200+ children in the one mile fun run. Planter’s product introduction brought a new name in 1995, the Planters Run for FitNUTS 5K. In 1996 Planters relocated to New Jersey and although they remained a sponsor for that year, their participation in the race was limited, and the number of runners dropped to under 600.
1997 brought a new name and a new sponsor, the Hanes Beefy-T Family 5K. Hanes provided marketing and production assistance with a new logo and brochure produced by their marketing department. Hanes also provided T-shirts and printing assistance. Attendance slipped to the 400’s in 1997 and 300’s in 1998 and 1999. After 1999 Hanes moved on to sponsor the Salem Lake Trail Runs and our club was now faced with ﬁnding a new sponsor for the 5K run.
In 2000, 4 Runners Only, a running store located in Reynolda Village stepped up and the event was renamed the Beat the Heat 5K. The combined attendance of the 5K and fun run remained in the 300-400 range for several years.
Beginning in 2007, the club began adding new features to the race to add more appeal and excitement to the race. From 2007 to 2012, attendance grew to a peak of close to 1,000 race participants. Since that time, more than 700 people have participated each year in the Beat the Heat races.
In 2008, Beat the Heat began hosting the NC USTAF 5K Championship. This brought a new level of excitement to the race. In the first 4 years of hosting this championship event, local native Bobby Mack set new course records each year. Beginning in 2016, the NC USATF 5K Championship race began running as a separate race immediately following the regular Beat the Heat 5K race. The championship race is run on a modified 3 lap course creating a great spectator event.
In 2016, Beat the Heat added charity partners to the event. The Charity Partner program is a way to further support the event mission to promote fitness and health, and improve the quality of life for individuals and families. All proceeds beyond race expenses go to non-profit organizations.
In 2017, Cook Medical became the presenting sponsor for Beat the Heat, providing further assistance and resources for meeting event goals and supporting community health and fitness.
In 2020, the races were converted to Virtual Only as the COVID-19 pandemic made it unsafe to hold in person races. Packet Pickup was set up as a drive through with start/finish lines to provide a race like experience. Numerous videos were produced and aired on YouTube to provide virtual race information and instructions. A live awards ceremony was conducted via Instagram Live on the Sunday following race day. Several innovations resulted in a successful event in light of the challenges presented. Remarkably, over 400 people registered for the virtual events with 355 results posted.
2021 was another year of change with a return to live in-person racing, but a venue change to the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. Construction on the Wake Forest property required an unexpected move with only 3 weeks to go before the race. While the change was made quickly, it worked out well and the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds was selected as the permanent future venue for Beat the Heat.
Beat the Heat Race Directors
2007 – present Er Ralston
2002 – 2006 Dave Cook
2000 – 2001 Jeff Sherman
1998 – 1999 Sandy Wetherhold
1997 John Brazil
1994 – 1996 Annie Morehead
1992 – 1993 Susan McKarns
1991 Debbie Davis
1990 Sandy Wetherhold
1989 Guy Oldaker