Ten years ago this month, beloved Dalton native and physician Bill Gregory met an untimely death.
Dr. Gregory was a beloved family man, an esteemed internist, and a devoted friend whose patients numbered into the thousands, and who, from what I’ve been told, each believed was his “special” patient. He was a man whose love for fitness and his passion for adopting a healthy lifestyle became paramount during his final years.
And while his passing is still painful for the thousands who knew and loved him, I have no doubt that Dr. Gregory would have been incredibly pleased with the legacy he’s left behind with Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership’s Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic, an event that has become a local tradition and one of the largest and most successful road races in the Northwest Georgia region.
This past month, the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic had one of its most successful showings to date. More than 3,000 people of all ages and all stages of life signed up to participate in the race, and more than 2,000 actually competed in 2K, 5K, and 10K runs.
Of the 3,061 paid participants who supported the race this year, the more than 2,000 who actually ran it was higher than normal, perhaps due to the absolutely perfect weather conditions Dalton experienced on May 14.
While the weather could not have been any better, with warm sun and a pleasant breeze, the compliments from runners who competed this year were also at an all-time high.
Particularly popular was the new starting block for the 10K race, a starting line that was located nearer to the Hamilton Ambulatory Surgery Center and which allowed the highly competitive runners signed up to run the 10K a chance to compete in a field of their own. This allowed the 5K participants, some of whom are community supporters running for the sheer fun of it, more space to set their own pace.
The 10K course has become more challenging this year as well, which was another source of compliments from those runners, and next year, they’ll have even more to appreciate, as we plan to increase the monetary awards for the overall winners of both the 10K and the 5K. We hope that by increasing prize money, we will be able to encourage an even more competitive race environment and draw even more competitive runners to the event.
Looking ahead to next year, we’re also in the process of exploring the possibility of having an additional race for those with certain disabilities, so stay tuned and we’ll let you know as soon as we can just what that will look like.
As always, we are incredibly indebted to our hundreds of volunteers who help make the race run smoothly every year. Those volunteers include Bradley Wellness Center (BWC) employees, members of the Junior ROTC, hundreds of others from area businesses, including employees from Georgia United Credit Union and students from Morris Innovative High School. Thank you for your continued support.
And we absolutely could not do what we do without the generous contributions from our major and minor sponsors. This year, as in several years past, Cargill was the Presenting Sponsor. Other major sponsors included Textile Rubber and Chemical Company and Physicians Health Services, who were our Platinum Sponsors. An additional Platinum Sponsor was State Senator Charlie Bethel who deserves our thanks for his contributions to our social media efforts, which helped us get the word out in an expansive way.
Ricky Harrison of the BWC and David Leatherman of the Carpet Capital Running Club deserve special recognition for all they did to keep the timing of the races on track, so to speak. Many thanks to all.
In terms of winners of the various events, you can check out our Bill Gregory page at billgregory.org for a complete list, but I do want to mention a few participating milestones.
Spring Place Elementary School won the Kids Classic trophy for having the most student participation. Shaw Industries, Inc., won the Corporate Division Level 1 award for most participants, while Cargill won the Corporate Division Level 2 award. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church won the Run for God trophy for the number of members who signed up to participate, and St. Joseph’s Clinic won the Dr. Bill Gregory Award for the medical practice with the highest number of participants.
Again, a heartfelt thanks to all of those who invested their time, energy, and money to help make this another fantastic year for the Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic. We look forward to even bigger and better events in the years to come.