Cropps a fixture at ‘5K on the Greenway’

First Posted: 10/7/2009

In the past 20 years, the annual race now known as the 5K on the Greenway has switched back and forth between a 5K and 10K, changed locations and settled on its current sponsorship between the Reeves Community Center and the Mount Airy Junior Womans Club. Through it all, Clarence Cropps has been an ever-present figure.
And despite a new hip, this year wont be any different. The 58-year-old has won the event a couple of times, but these days hes having fun simply competing, as age and the new hip have taken him back to when he started.
I grew up on a farm, so I didnt get to play any sports, Cropps said. I took up running as something to do. I fell in love with it and been doing it for years.
After the May 2007 hip-replacement surgery, Cropps and running nearly parted ways. During the healing process, he lamented that he pondered never lacing up his running shoes again.
I thought Id give it a try again and I was still able to do it, he said.
It was a slow process. Probably about seven or eight months after I had surgery I would jog and walk some. (It was) probably about a year before I was able to run a mile without stopping.
Now that the rough patch is over, Cropps appreciates his ability to simply go out and pound the pavement. He has times in mind, but its not a big deal if he hits them or not. Just being able to run again is good enough for Cropps.
I dont have any pain at all, he said. I cant run as fast as I used to, but being able to do it is a blessing.
Cropps, a Duke energy employee, is an assistant track coach at Mount Airy high school. In his free time he volunteers to run with others and give pointers.
I coach some people on the side, the cheerful and laid-back Cropps said. Outside of high school, people want to improve and I want to help when I can, you know?
While Cropps has been a staple at the local running event for years, Darren Lewis of Reeves Community Center said the 5K on the Greenway has welcomed many newcomers in each of the past four years, and expects big things for this Saturdays race.
We have probably grown a minimum of 25 runners per year, Lewis said. Last year, we actually grew (by) about 50. It was our biggest growth.
On Tuesday, Lewis said pre-registration showed more entrants booked than at the same time last year, indicating another good year. The 5K begins at 8:45 a.m. and a half-mile fun run aimed at younger athletes proceeds it. Registration takes place from 7 to 8 a.m. at the intersection of Independence Blvd. and the Emily B. Taylor Greenway.
Between the two races, were hoping to have 300 (participants), Lewis said.
Last year registered 220 runners. But there is one thing that could slow down the influx of new participants this year.
Were just hoping and praying for good weather, Lewis said.
Five years ago, Reeves teamed with the Mount Airy Junior Womans Club to co-sponsor the event. So far, the relationship has worked well for both parties.
They were looking at a fundraiser to get involved with, Lewis said. We had already been offering the 5K race, so we partnered with them in hopes of making the event bigger and better, and by all means that has happened. It has far exceeded our expectations.
Proceeds from the events go towards the Mount Airy Junior Womans Club. Cash awards and medals will be award to first-, second- and third-place finishers in each of the eight age groups that cover all possible entrants.
Registration forms can be picked up at Reeves Community Center and the cost to run is $25. For more information, call 786-8313 or e-mail Darren Lewis at [email protected]
Contact Ed Phillipps at [email protected] or 719-1921.

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