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Singer Bo Bice, of American Idol fame, brought some star power to this year's 2012 Fuzz Run, singing the National Anthem and kicking off the 5k race with the classic "On your mark. Set Go."
And when it was all said and done, a couple of local runners took home the overall crowns, as Covington resident Eric John and Social Circle resident Kelly Brown bested the other 2,000 contestants to win the 29th annual Fuzz Run.
For John, who finished the race with a time of 18 minutes and 12 seconds, the win added to list of local race crowns he owns, as the 41-year-old has also won Steeple Chase, Fire House and Heat of the Night 5K races.
"It's always cool to win the hometown race," John said Saturday. "Now I've won all the local races."
John was born in Jacksonville, Fla. but moved to Covington in 1986 "for marriage." He said this year's race was his fourth or fifth Fuzz Run, but his first overall win. His time was far off the course record (14:16), but John said it helped that the prize money runners weren't in attendance this year.
He runs about 100 races a year, including everything from 5Ks to 50-mile races. He ran in high school, but didn't pick it back up until about three years ago and now loves it.
"Competing. You got to compete," John said when asked why he likes to run. "There's nothing wrong with that."
Brown, 26, took first place overall for the women with a time of 22:02. While she likes to run, for her, it's more of a fitness thing, as she only runs in a handful of races every year.
"Whenever I get free time I like to workout," Brown said. "Fitness is a big part of my life...it gives me a natural high."
She had to make a last minute dash to win the race making it a true photo finish; Brown soundly beat her last personal best of 23:17.
Beat the Principal
In the midst of the Saturday's 2,024 racers were around 40 to 50 students and faculty from Eastside, as Principal Jeff Cher issued a challenge this year. Normally, Eastside seniors get to leave for lunch a minute early so they can be first in line in the cafeteria, but Cher suspended the privilege in September and said he would only give it back to those seniors who could beat him in the Fuzz Run.
"I've run the Fuzz Run for many years, and we always see the different schools cross country teams out there, but I thought this would be a neat way to get the kids out and involved in the community and up and moving around. I picked up running and enjoyed it; it's given me a way to exercise and I hope it will be the same for the kids."
Eastside senior Andrew Sneed took up the challenge, but said a lack of preparation left him short of his goal as leg cramps slowed him to a time of 32 and a half minutes, while Cher finished at 27:28 (even after he said he slowed down a little bit to give more students the opportunity to beat him). Cher said about he thought about half the Eastside participants beat him.
When asked if it was disappointed, Sneed said "Not really. I hope I'll be able to do better next time. It's all about improving your self. You don't do it for a pot of gold (referring to beating Cher and leaving early for lunch), you do it for yourself."
Cher thanked Eastside's Julia Riggs for coordinating the whole thing. The Eastside member got a bulk discount on signups and donated the money to this year's Relay For Life effort.
Finally, the gifts
The proceeds from the 5K race go to the Covington Police Department's Police Who Care fund, which is used to support various local organizations. At this year's Fuzz Run, the fund donated $500 to the Alcovy High School art department.In addition, several gifts were given away including a 50-inch TV and a guitar signed by Bo Bice.