Ridgeway 5k

LUCI WELDON/The Warren Record

From the left, Justin Marshall and Jeff Dodrill, both of Nashville, and Tommy Tucker of Norlina lead runners at the start of the Ridgeway Cantaloupe 5k on Saturday, July 25.

It was a strong showing for Northern Nash High School at the Ridgeway Cantaloupe 5k on Saturday, July 25, as Justin Marshall, 17, a member of the school’s track team, won the race. 

Saturday’s event was the 7th Ridgeway Cantaloupe 5k, which is sponsored annually by the Ridgeway Historical Society.

As many as 80 people have participated in the race in past years. However, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ridgeway Historical Society President Tommy Tucker was pleased that some 50 people registered for this year’s event. Ten of them chose to make donations to the Historical Society without running the race.

Runners were divided into small groups to allow for staggered starts and as much social distancing as possible. Non-participants wore face coverings throughout the event, and runners donned them following the event.

The race began on Ridgeway-Drewry Road off U.S. 1 in Ridgeway and followed a route to a turnaround point near St. Paul’s Lutheran Church before runners returned to the start/finish line.

The 2020 5k drew participants from Warren County, Nashville, Henderson, Creedmoor, Roanoke Rapids, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and as far away as Mineral, Va. 

The top three finishers were Marshall; Phil Molloy, 52, of Apex, with a time of 18 minutes and 29 seconds; and Chance Savage, 17, also of Northern Nash High School, with a time of 20 minutes and 18 seconds.

Marshall was the top male finisher. Not to be outdone, his coaches, Jeff and Tracy Dodrill of Nashville, also posted fast times. Tracy Dodrill, 50, was the top female finisher and was fourth place overall with a time of 21 minutes and 50 seconds. Close behind, her husband, Jeff, 53, finished fifth overall with a time of 23 minutes and 34 seconds.

The duo has brought runners from Northern Nash to the Ridgeway Cantaloupe 5k for the past five years.

Jeff grew up at Lake Gaston and remembers traveling to Ridgeway to purchase cantaloupes many times. He began racing the 5k before his wife joined him. Tracy saw her husband’s race T-shirt with smiling cantaloupe design, thought the shirt was cute, and decided to run herself. The family and Northern Nash Cantaloupe 5k tradition was born.

The race also featured strong finishes by local residents. Tommy Tucker has run in every Cantaloupe 5k except the first. This year, he finished third in the Male 50-59 division.

Top finishers by age group are as follows:

• Male 12 and under: First place, B. Richardson, 7, of Littleton, 38 minutes, 47 seconds; second place, T. Tucker, 11, of Norlina, 39 minutes, 33 seconds

• Male 20-29: first place, John Pompliano, 24, of Littleton, 25 minutes, 36 seconds; second place, William Landis, 26, of Creedmoor, 27 minutes, 13 seconds

• Male 30-39: first place, Eric Barnes, 32, of Littleton, 32 minutes

• Male 40-49: first place, Eric Earp, 45, of Nashville, 50 minutes, 30 seconds

• Male 50-59: first place, Jeff Dodrill; second place, John Kent, 59, of Nashville, 26 minutes, 47 seconds; third place, Tommy Tucker, 57, of Norlina, 27 minutes, 27 seconds

• Male 60-69: first place, Dave Arner, 66, of Henderson, 25 minutes, 30 seconds; second place, James Kerr, 60, of Roanoke Rapids, 32 minutes, 21 seconds; third place, Jeff Eischen, 64, of Chapel Hill, 36 minutes, 23 seconds

• Male 70 and over: first place, Val Price, 74, of Raleigh, 45 minutes, 25 seconds

• Female 20-29, first place, McKenzie Gay, 24, of Norlina, 39 minutes, 34 seconds

• Female 30-39: first place, Rachael Richardson, 34, of Littleton, 38 minutes, 49 seconds; second place, Stephanie Carter, 34, of Macon, 39 minutes,  34 seconds; third place, Morgan Barnes, 31, of Littleton, 43 minutes, 15 seconds

• Female 50-59: first place, Cindy Owens, 50, of Henderson, 35 minutes, 24 seconds; second place, Debbie Kerr, 55, of Roanoke Rapids, 35 minutes, 48 seconds; third place, Francesca Eischen, 57, of Chapel Hill, 36 minutes, 23 seconds

• Female 60-69: first place, Lynne Skilton, 60, of Littleton, 43 minutes, 49 seconds; second place, Cathia Pope, 62, of Norlina, 48 minutes, 51 seconds

The Ridgeway Historical Society continues to accept donations to help with renovations and maintenance of the Ridgeway Community Club. Donations may be mailed to Ridgeway Historical Society, c/o Tommy Tucker, 970 Ridgeway Warrenton Rd., Norlina, NC 27563, or by calling Tucker at 252-213-0429. Race T-shirts are also available for $25 by calling Tucker.