By Debbie Adams
The weather was absolutely perfect for Vinton’s “Four on the 4th” race benefitting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia. The four-miler is sponsored by American National Bank and Fleet Feet.
This year marked the 11th annual Four on the 4th, but the first time that it was run in the Town of Vinton. In past years, Roanoke City has been the site of the event. Blaine Lewis, co-owner of Fleet Feet, noted that since this was the first race to take place in Vinton, “everyone will be able to set a course record.”
In fact, there were two races on the morning of the Fourth of July, the regularrace at 8 a.m. which proceeded from the Vinton War Memorial down Washington Avenue and along Walnut Avenue and the Greenway to Fallon Park and back.
Following that event there was a Kids’ Fun Run down Washington Avenue—again starting at the War Memorial.
The “Four on the 4th” race is one of the main fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA. In 2021, the event raised over $18,000.
The organization relies on the financial support from this race to provide summer camps and after-school programs for disadvantaged youth in Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Salem City, Franklin County, Montgomery County, and Vinton. One of their after-school programs is housed at Vinton Baptist Church and serves students from Herman L. Horn and W.E. Cundiff Elementary Schools.
Over 500 participants turned out for this year’s event. Most were dressed patriotically in red, white, and blue in honor of the occasion, including several in tutus. It was a family-friendly event with many children, quite a few in strollers.
Michelle Davis, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA, opened the race by thanking the Town of Vinton for being incredible partners in welcoming “Four on the 4th”, especially the Public Works and Police Departments for their efforts to make things go smoothly.
She also expressed her appreciation to Fleet Feet and American National Bank for being faithful sponsors and to the many volunteers it takes to put on the race.
Mayor Brad Grose welcomed race participants to the town and signaled the start of the race with the official shotgun start and the runners were off. The first one back to the finish line in 20:51:4 was David Angell of Blue Ridge. Coming in second was George Tolton of Salem with a time of 20:56:4. The first female runner to finish the race was Erica Howes, also of Salem, with a time of 25:02:4.
Vinton’s racers made a good showing. Town Manager Pete Peters finished 14th in his age division with a time of 41:56:0. His goal had been to make it in under 50 minutes.
Vinton First Aid Crew Chief Chris Sayre came in ninth in his division at 1:08:57.8. Shaun Gower, age 14, finished first in his age group with a time of 27:48:2. Vernon Hudson came in third in the age 70 and above group. William Byrd High School Tammy Newcomb finished fourth in her age division.
Brent Warner of Roanoke came across the finish line pushing a baby stroller with two passengers.
Racers received medals and cheers as they crossed the finish line; overall winners and age-group winters received prizes from K92 and Q99 and commemorative T-shirts at a celebration after the races were complete.
Sponsors of this year’s “Four on the 4th” included: title sponsor American National Bank, FocusOne, Cox, Freedom First, Roanoke Valley Orthodontics, Fleet Feet, the Boys and Girls Clubs of SWVA, Dominion Risk Advisers, ON Shoes, Press Press Merch, RND Coffee, Krispy Kreme Donuts, Texas Tavern, the Sign Factory, Q99, K92, the Town of Vinton, Lionberger Construction, BJ’s, and Gentry Locke.
Donations were accepted at the race for victims of Saturday’s fire in downtown Vinton. Chasity Barbour, Director of Community Programs in Vinton, and Mayor Grose sincerely thanked those who contributed. Many members of town staff had spent Saturday assisting at the fire scene and were faithfully back for the race early Monday morning and the fire works that evening.
For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of SWVA, visit https://www.bgcswva.org/.