Runners of all ages, newcomers and regulars, even the UNC Charlotte chancellor and chief of police, all geared up in the frigid 32 degree weather for the annual Gold Rush 5K Feb. 6.
The 49er Gold Rush 5K, hosted by the Recreational Services Department, began at 9 a.m. at the Belk Track and Field Complex.
The cold morning air kept all 560 runners jumping and stretching, doing anything they could to keep warm before the start of the race. As they waited in the crowd, one man in particular stood out with a giant sign that towered above runners. This man was UNC Charlotte Chief of Police Jeffrey Baker.
Baker has run this event every year since he started working at the university six years ago. However, this year is the first time he carried the sign about the LiveSafe app.
“I’ve run hundreds of races in my lifetime … and this is the first time I ever carried a sign. But I did it for our students. I’m trying to get the word out that this app is so useful,” said Baker.
He emphasized that this free safety app is particularly beneficial on a college campus.
“I thought [this race is] a great time to get out among all of our student, staff and faculty participating so that they can learn more about our app,” said Baker.
In addition to his sign, Baker fashioned a green hard hat he decorated himself with lights and sparkly glue to show his Niner Pride.
Junior Tanner Glackin, who ran a time of exactly 20 minutes, is a newcomer to the event, yet he is an experienced runner. He shared that in middle school, he was one of the worst runners. “By my senior year [of high school] I was the top runner,” said Glackin.
Glackin placed eighth in the state championship his senior year with a time of 16:10. When he started college, however, it became more difficult to run on a regular basis due to his work load from classes.
“That [Student] Union hill kind of killed me because I could tell a lot of my leg muscles weren’t there anymore,” said Glackin. He placed sixteenth overall.
For some participants, the Gold Rush served as their first time participating in a running event.
“I’m feeling a little bit anxious,” said junior Chris Galicki 30 minutes until start time. Despite the fact that he never ran any kind of race before, Galicki said he wanted to try something new.
“I thought why not take the challenge and do it for a year?” said Galicki.
First place overall winner Oliver Blecher ran a time of 16:14. Meg Santanna placed first for women with a time of 18:39.
All of the proceeds for this event benefit UNC Charlotte’s student development scholarships. Any direct donations go to an organization called Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching young girls how to reach their potential.