Rutherford Weekly

September 21, 2023

Rutherford Weekly - Shelby NC

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Page 12 - Rutherford Weekly 828-248-1408 Thursday, September 21-September 27, 2023 The Rutherford Railroad Development Corporation (RRDC) hosted the fi rst ever Thermal Belt Rail Trail (TBRT) Amazing Race on September 9. The event was created in honor of North Carolina's Year of the Trail. Teams raced across eight miles of the TBRT, completing a series of challenges along the way. The TBRT Amazing Race was held in conjunction with the Town of Forest City's annual health- and wellness-focused Movement Fest. The event kicked off at Forest City's Park Square trail access point, and ended with an awards ceremony on the Pavilion on Park Square (POPS) main stage. Participants came from across Rutherford County, Gastonia, Belmont, Flat Rock, Cedar Mountain, Timberlake in North Carolina and from York, South Carolina. This team-based race brought together many organizations, with "challenge stations" sponsored by organizations that were instrumental in developing the trail. The challenge sponsors were the Town of Forest City, North Carolina State Parks, Rutherford Bound, Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority, RHI Legacy Foundation, and the Town of Spindale. Every challenge station had an activity, game, or riddle themed after the sponsoring organization's mission. "It was so much fun being a part of the excitement and watching the enthusiasm of the teams," said Amy Taylor from the Town of Spindale. The event planning began in January with the help of Jenna Bailey, Creative Director of Artifacturing, who sparked the idea of an Amazing Race in celebration of the Year of the Trail. After receiving the RRDC's blessing and solidifying partnerships with the Town of Forest City and challenge sponsors, Artifacturing organized and produced the event. "The idea from day one was to showcase all of the partnerships and team work it took to make this 13.58 mile trail just four short years ago this October 19. Pulling in challenge sponsors that made the trail, gave us the opportunity to return the favor and showcase their organization and outreach in our amazing community. It became a diverse race for teams of friends, family and co-workers to experience," Bailey said. The event grew to become a symbol of why the TBRT is such a diverse resource. "The community coming together is what made this Amazing Race 'amazing,'" said Bailey, "the creativity and effort put into each station by their sponsored organization, along with the large number of volunteers who showed up on the day of made the event really special." Over 50 volunteers helped with numerous duties including: registration, assisting at the challenge stations, runninh volunteers lunch, handing out prizes and helping in any way needed. R-S Traffi c Control and Rutherford County Traffi c Control manned the crossways on the trail. The challenges were designed for participants to use their wits, know- how and team- building skills. These challenges were top secret until the day of the race. After completing a challenge, teams received a clue from a judge that would then lead them onto the next part of their quest. The challenges ranged in variety from mental to physical tasks. Amazing Racers sped through a selfi e challenge in downtown Forest City, learned how to orienteer with a compass, identifi ed local landmarks in the county, used their knowledge of Spindale Centennial facts, assisted a park ranger, and won a bingo game with a twist. One challenge, presented by Rutherford Bound, tasked Amazing Race teams with planting a tree along the TBRT. Those trees can now be seen lining part of the rail trail between miles 8 and 9, forever commemorating this event that celebrated the Year of the Trail. "It was awesome to see such a fun group of people on the trail, it was obvious they were having a great time!" said Ron Hancock of Rutherford Bound and Destination by Design. Presenting sponsorships included RHI Legacy Foundation and Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority. Additional sponsorships came from Artifacturing, BrewDega, Big Guns Coffee, Destination by Design, Grumpy's Bike Shop, On Main, and Rock Steady. NC Fudge, formerly Fat Tracy's, provided lunch for the 50+ Amazing Staff volunteers and Plum Natural, Food Lion and Ingles donated water and snacks for the racers. "RHI Legacy Foundation was pleased to be a sponsor of the event," said Jill Miracle of RHI Legacy Foundation. "We were able to highlight the Thermal Belt Rail Trail and the Backpack Program, two of our signifi cant grant projects. We would love to see the Amazing Race grow and provide signifi cant fi nancial backing for future Rail Trail enhancements." Feedback from participating racers was overwhelmingly positive, with teams already looking forward to next year. "The whole race was so much fun. Everything from the pre-race information to the challenges, the instructions, the traffi c control, the prizes - it was all so well organized. It was the perfect balance of physical and mental challenge, team building, and community outreach," said Heather Banfi eld (Team You Shall Not Pass), "for being the fi rst time doing something like this, the bar has been set very high." All participants surveyed recommended others to participate and, "I hope they do it again next year because we can't wait to make a comeback," Angel King (Team Rock Steady) said, "kudos to the race organizers, the station leaders, and the host of amazing volunteers. This inaugural event was thoughtfully planned and extremely organized. My team members and I had so much fun. It was a wonderful experience and we are already looking forward to next year's TBRT Amazing Race." The race concluded with an awards ceremony on POPS main stage. Prizes were given to First Place bikers and pedestrians, Second Place, Best Team Costume as well as honorary mention prizes given by each challenge station. Prizes included Thermal Belt Rail Trail and Year of the Trail swag, speakers, passes to Chimney Rock State Park, survival bracelets and gift cards to local restaurants. Stephanie and Richard Williams of Team Blink Floyd took fi rst place, with Team T&T Howler Tracks (Toni Belhu, Jed Turner, Tim Turner, and Stella Turner) following behind with a close second. The Disney Dominators (Chad Carper, Jenny Carper, Reggie Norris, and Susan Norris) took home the Best Team Costume award. The Thermal Belt Rail Trail's Best Selfi e Award was given to Team Amazing Race Crew (Philip LaFon, Julia Rhoads, Christina Rhoads, Tim Rhoads). Article By: Jenna Bailey. Photos By: Pay Nanney & Jenna Bailey. Amazing Race brought lots of competitors to the fun day; hoping for a second race next year Rickey and June Green were the only team that participated as walkers. All other teams rode bicycles. Some of the teams awaiting the start. The Amazing Staff and Participants celebrate at the end of the awards ceremony with one more selfi e inside Forest City's Pavilion on Park Square. The Disney Dominators - Chad & Jenny Carper and Reggie & Susan Norris - winning the Best Team Costume award. Team T&T Howler Tracks - Jed, Tim, Stella Turner and Toni Belhu - are all smiles as they fi nish second place in the inaugural TBRT Amazing Race. Team Dirt Divas at the Finish Line. Presenting sponsor Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority pose while preparing for the Amazing Race participants at Challenge Five. 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