Fitness Fest on Sunday

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

The Brick City Criterium had its first running, or cycling, in downtown Sanford in 2008. The criterium became part of the inaugural Sanford Fitness Fest the next year.

This Sunday, hundreds of cyclists will come to downtown Sanford for the seventh Brick City Criterium. There will also be hundreds of runners, walkers, crossfit athletes, kids playing in Depot Park and spectators on hand for the mix of sport, entertainment, shopping and weather-permitting, a pleasant April day at the Sanford Fitness Fest.

Events, starting with a 5K run/walk and a 10K run, begin at 8:15 a.m. and go throughout the day. While event founder Dr. Parker McConville, himself a competitive cyclist who thought such a criterium would fit, quite literally, in downtown Sanford, still works hard to improve the criterium each year, he’s pleased to say the Fitness Fest has grown to the point where the Brick City Criterium is only one piece of the big day.

“There really are so many aspects to it now. There’s something truly for everybody,” McConville said.

Each spring, he said, Fitness Fest adds a wider scope of events, drawing a larger crowd, even if cycling, or even fitness, isn’t a main reason for some.

More than 50 vendors will set up in Depot Park for the day. The Tramway Jump Rope Team, Black Belt Leadership Academy and a concert by Brick City South will be part of the afternoon entertainment in the park.

“I think it highlights downtown Sanford,” McConville said. “ ... we hope people walk around, see what’s around and come back.”

Crossfit athletes from rival teams Crossfit Sanford and Anderson Creek Crossfit will duel in the Third Annual Workout of the Day in the Park. The kids’ fun run is set for 9:45 a.m. and the kids’ bike race is slated for 1:15 p.m.

The criterium will begin at 8:45 a.m. The cyclists will speed around a 0.6-mile lap of Steele Street, Wicker Street, Moore Street and Gordon Street in timed races ranging from 25-70 minutes and ranging in level from junior races to pro cyclists.

Registration for the 5K and 10K races will be open from 6:30-8 a.m. at the corner of Carthage Street and Steele Street.

More information on the whole day, for athlete or spectator, is available at

More than the athletic showcases though, giving back to the community has guided the event since McConville organized the first criterium. Proceeds from this weekend will be donated to organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, the Boys and Girls Club of Sanford and Lee County Schools.

“The first year we did it, that (raising money for charities) was kind of how it started,” he said.

Finding important local causes has always been a driving goal. The fest teams with schools to award the three Lee County schools with the most faculty, staff and student participating in the 5K, 10K or kids’ fun run with a total purse of $5,000 to buy supplies at Building Knowledge.

“The school competition hopefully is a way to encourage more participation and it’s also a chance to give back in a way to Lee County specifically,” McConville said.

Two $1,000 scholarships, one to a Lee County student and one to a Southern Lee student, will be presented. The scholarships are merit-based awards given to seniors who are strong academically, are student-athletes and participate in civic organizations.