Beat the Heat 5K History

2021 Cook Medical Beat The Heat on Saturday, July 17, 2021, at Winston-Salem Fair Grounds in Winston-Salem, NC. (Photo by Robert Hill)

The Beat the Heat 5K began in 1989 as the Coors Lite Saturday Night Fever 5K. It offered an alternative to the early morning races with an evening schedule and a social atmosphere afterwards. It was modeled after a similar event in Greensboro, the Tavern Tour. In the first year The Saturday Night Fever 5K drew 335 finishers.


In 1990, Planters, whose headquarters was located next to the race course became the financial sponsor and assisted with promotion. The race was renamed the Planters Saturday Night Fever 5K and drew 423 participants. In 1991, when Planter’s launched their Munch ‘n Go product line, the race became the Planters Munch ‘n Go 5K Road Race. Enhanced promotion brought in 723 participants and numerous spectators. Over the next five years the race continued to draw 700+ 5K runners and 200+ children in the one mile fun run. Planter’s product introduction brought a new name in 1995, the Planters Run for FitNUTS 5K. In 1996 Planters relocated to New Jersey and although they remained a sponsor for that year, their participation in the race was limited, and the number of runners dropped to under 600.


1997 brought a new name and a new sponsor, the Hanes Beefy-T Family 5K. Hanes provided marketing and production assistance with a new logo and brochure produced by their marketing department. Hanes also provided T-shirts and printing assistance. Attendance slipped to the 400’s in 1997 and 300’s in 1998 and 1999. After 1999 Hanes moved on to sponsor the Salem Lake Trail Runs and our club was now faced with finding a new sponsor for the 5K run.


In 2000, 4 Runners Only, a running store located in Reynolda Village stepped up and the event was renamed the Beat the Heat 5K. The combined attendance of the 5K and fun run remained in the 300-400 range for several years.

Beginning in 2007, the club began adding new features to the race to add more appeal and excitement to the race. From 2007 to 2012, attendance grew to a peak of close to 1,000 race participants. Since that time, more than 700 people have participated each year in the Beat the Heat races.


In 2008, Beat the Heat began hosting the NC USTAF 5K Championship. This brought a new level of excitement to the race. In the first 4 years of hosting this championship event, local native Bobby Mack set new course records each year. Beginning in 2016, the NC USATF 5K Championship race began running as a separate race immediately following the regular Beat the Heat 5K race. The championship race is run on a modified 3 lap course creating a great spectator event.


In 2016, Beat the Heat added charity partners to the event. The Charity Partner program is a way to further support the event mission to promote fitness and health, and improve the quality of life for individuals and families. All proceeds beyond race expenses go to non-profit organizations.


In 2017, Cook Medical became presenting sponsor for Beat the Heat, providing further assistance and resources for meeting event goals and supporting community health and fitness.


Editor’s Note: After digging through old TCTC Flyers, I have been able to assemble all the race directors over the last 30 years who have made this awesome race great. A special thanks goes to Er Ralston who has spearheaded this race for the last 12 years.


Beat The Heat Race Directors

2007 – 2021 – Er Ralston

2002 – 2006 – Dave Cook

2000 – 2001 – Jeff Sherman

1998 – 1999 – Sandy Wetherhold

1997 – John Brazil

1994 – 1996 – Annie Morehead

1992 – 1993 – Susan McKarns

1991 – Debbie Davis 1990 – Sandy Wetherhold

1989 – Guy Oldaker