The Bank of Fincastle’s 33rd Annual Fall 5K and 10K Run is just around the corner. Register to run or walk or just enjoy being a spectator and cheerleader for the runners. Coming up Saturday, Oct. 19 in the historic Town of Fincastle, the race begins at Central Academy Middle School at 9 a.m.
In 1987, the first race began with just over 150 runners. In 2018, more than 700 were registered. This year just as many participants are expected to run through the streets of Fincastle towards the finish line. Many different individuals participate: young, old, serious world class competitors, and some that simply walk it for the sheer pleasure.
The race is The Bank of Fincastle’s signature event and each year they get asked the same question, “Why do you continue?” Well, after so many years there are many reasons, but when it comes down to it, they say it’s about loyalty and commitment. When Richard Pauley, a local cross country advocate, approached the bank in 1985, the bank board of directors seized the idea as a way to contribute to the physical conditioning of Botetourt’s children and to involve people from all areas of the county. Each year prior to the race the bank delivers brochures, applications and posters to the schools. All of the local elementary schools form teams and begin practices. They learn team building and set goals together. The Bank of Fincastle started an event that has become an intricate part of this community to which it is loyal, and is committed, to see it continue.
People have asked, “What do you do will all the proceeds from the race?” Sometimes it’s difficult to explain that there a no real monetary proceeds. The race is fully bank-sponsored so The Bank of Fincastle incurs all the costs associated with the event. The bank keeps the entry fees low just to help cover some of the cost of the custom T-shirts. The Bank of Fincastle wants any student who wishes to participate to be able to afford it.
The real proceeds are being able to bring the community together and to offer a Fall Run Scholarship Award for which local high school students may apply. The process is very thorough and requires that they completed at least one of The Bank of Fincastle’s Fall Runs. Included with their application they need letters of recommendation and to be involved in a running sport at their high school. The scholarships are each $1,000 and one is presented to a Lord Botetourt student and one to a James River student. This past spring Jacob Dewease from LBHS and Emma Butler from JRHS were awarded the scholarships.
Scott Steele, President and CEO of the bank, said, “You just have to be there. It is amazing to see the faces of each runner as they start and finish their run.” It all begins with “runners take your mark,” then you hear the bang from the shotgun start and the pounding of running shoes on the pavement. Next, cheers and clapping of those who faithfully watch from the sidelines fills the air. In just under 15 minutes the first runner will cross the finish line, exhausted yet exhilarated. Then, runner after runner will cross the finish line, each one a winner because they had a goal and they accomplished it.
Few people realize the magnitude of organizing an event of this type. Cindy Bailey, the bank’s Marketing Director, is in her fourth year serving as Race Director. For the first 30 years, Richard Pauley dedicated thousands of hours managing and organizing the race. Bailey worked with him during his 30th year to learn to follow in his footsteps.
“His are no easy shoes to fill,” Bailey said of Richard Pauley. “He truly loves this event and is available any time I call to give me insight, encouragement and support. His commitment and enthusiasm over the years brought the race all together and that’s what continues to make it work.” In the beginning, he did his research and sought the advice of professional runners. Alvin Smith (who has now passed), All-American at North Carolina and Roanoke College, Roanoke College Sports Hall of Fame; and Steve Taylor, head coach, Virginia Tech, All-American, and two time United States Olympic Team Alternate, have guided and advised the Fall Run throughout the years. They, along with many volunteers from the bank and the community, spend many hours getting ready for each year’s race.
The bank has continued to focus on making the race the best it can be. Three years ago, The Bank of Fincastle teamed with Mountain Junkies and introduced chip timing to the event. The introduction of the chip timing system allows for accurate and almost instantaneous race results. Every bib has a chip which is activated when the runner crosses the mat at the starting line and ends when they cross the mat at the finish. Online registrations have since been added through RunSignUp.com. Everyone seems to be pleased with the modernization of the event and the convenience of online registration.
On the day of the race the Botetourt County Sheriff’s Department closes the streets to keep runners safe while volunteers handle registration, provide water and snacks, sort trophies and medals; they work as road guards, timers, counters, and officials. The event would not be possible without Botetourt County first responders, the Botetourt County Public Schools, Principal Tim McClung of Central Academy Middle School, Botetourt County Administration and Gary Larrowe, Sheriff Ronnie Sprinkle, the Town of Fincastle and its residents, Fincastle Town Manager David Tickner, Godwin Cemetery Committee, the Boy Scouts, The Fincastle Herald, all of the volunteers and especially the runners, to mention just a few.
Although Richard Pauley’s wildlife design shirts retired with him, The Bank of Fincastle race shirts continue to be popular with their bright colors and custom design. Many of the shirts have been spotted on people states away. You’ll see locals and children wearing them at the grocery store or around town. Scott Steele added, “It is a very rewarding part of what we do within our community. The children that participate always remember the Fall Run and have their shirts, medals and trophies to prove it.”
There is still time to register online for this year’s race, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 9 a.m. at Central Academy Middle School in Fincastle. Visit https://runsignup.com/Race/VA/Fincastle/TheBankofFincastleFall5Kand10K to register.