Bartow runners forgo Peachtree Road Race for local offering
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 01, 2011 | 2870 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Ken Frasier, Andy Tripp and Ken Ruff prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with their annual 10K run at Dellinger Park on Sunday. Special
From left, Ken Frasier, Andy Tripp and Ken Ruff prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with their annual 10K run at Dellinger Park on Sunday. Special
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While completing the AJC Peachtree Road Race has become a Fourth of July staple for hundreds of Bartow County runners, Andy Tripp, Ken Frasier and Ken Ruff have decided to forgo the event and its coveted T-shirt for a more informal offering. Instead of traveling to Atlanta, about 14 years ago the friends started their own Independence Day tradition, running about 6.2 miles at Cartersville's Dellinger Park.

"Several of us had run the Peachtree in Atlanta and had gotten a little burned out with the crowd and the parking and [it] taking up most of the day," Tripp said. "And we decided that we would just do it here in Cartersville. [So] 12 or 13 years ago, [I was joined by] Mac Moretz, Ken Frasier, Ken Ruff [and] probably some other younger kids. There was probably eight or 10 of us that ran on that morning on July 4 at 6 o'clock here. Then over the years, there's been anywhere between two to five of us that run as a tradition. And if somebody's out of town, we'll be on the honor system to run on our vacation and check in with each other."

This year the trio -- all members of Cartersville First Baptist Church -- plan to run on Dellinger Park's 2.1 mile course Sunday at 6 a.m.

"We have done some different courses, but it's always been out at Dellinger Park. ... [now we are] running about three laps on the Vita Course," Tripp said. "Because we're getting older, it's easier to run on the ground. ... I think we cheated a year or two and did a [5K] but Ken [Frasier] and I have done 10Ks the last couple of years, and we take turns winning. We talk and run together as we go and whoever won the last year will kind of be two steps [behind], so we take turns winning. We're kind of running a slow pace, just proud to be there."

While Tripp has run the Peachtree Road Race twice -- in 1979 and 1984 -- Frasier has never participated in the Atlanta offering. Currently maintaining a regimen of running about three times a week, Frasier believes the annual July run helps him stay motivated to exercise on a regular basis.

"We both finish in the top five almost every year and that's because there's only like two of us running most years. I have not [run the Peachtree but] that was the genesis of it, I guess, is we gave some thought about doing the Peachtree and it dawned on us that we sort of have a 10K course," said Frasier, a 53-year-old Cartersville resident. "There is a true 10K course around [Dellinger] Park. ... I don't think we've missed a year since we started. And it's been [about 14 years].

"The first year we did it, [our] wives -- you know how [organized races] set up the little water stations, they did one of those for us [but] that was a one-year thing. I'm pretty sure Andy won last year. But my problem is there are two or three other folks that have said that they are going to run this year. So that doesn't guarantee me a victory."

On Sunday, Tripp welcomes anyone looking for a casual running adventure to join them at Dellinger Park near the basketball courts at 6 a.m.

"We kind of joke and say, 'There's no entry fees, no T-shirts, no pressure,'" he said.