Rescheduled Mill Chill ready to run
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Michael Forrester checks postings on social media after the annual Mill Chill four-mile race to read what participants are saying.
He specifically recalled one of the Mill Chill’s top runners, a woman, titled the name of her run, “Rocky Mount just keeps getting cooler.”
“And I love stuff like that,” Forrester said on Friday. “I mean, sometimes I feel like we don’t appreciate what we have because it’s right here in our own backyard.”
Forrester was talking about the upcoming the Mill Chill, which he directs. The third annual Mill Chill is set to start at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Rocky Mount Mills commercial and residential development.
He said as of Friday, approximately 600 participants, supporters and volunteers are committed to the event.
The proceeds are going to be used to help find a cure for multiple sclerosis. Forrester’s wife, Ursula, has the disease, which eats away at the protective covering of the nerves.
As for a fundraising goal, Michael Forrester said, “We always hope to get $10,000. It’s probably going to be closer to the $8,000 range.”
The third Mill Chill had been set for early December, but a winter storm caused Forrester and his fellow organizers to reschedule the event.
This time, the weather is going to be a different story, with Sunday’s forecast calling for sunny skies and a high of 62 degrees.
The event begins on the grounds of Rocky Mount Mills, with the route following Falls Road across the Tar River and winding through the woods of Battle Park.
The idea for the Mill Chill can be traced back to after the Forresters established a warm weather-time 5-kilometer run to raise money to help people suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Michael Forrester’s daughter Caroline at the time was a high school senior dating a young man who has cystic fibrosis. The Forresters also have friends with a child who has the disorder that threatens the lungs and the digestive system.
Michael Forrester said he and his daughter said to each other after the 5K event, “Let’s do something to raise money for the disease that impacts our family.”
So the Forresters established the wintertime Mill Chill, which is comprised of both a four-mile run and an approximately 1½-mile-long fun run.
Forrester said he believes what also makes the Mill Chill unique is he and his fellow organizers work with craft breweries throughout North Carolina.
He emphasized there’s a part of the event called the “Brewery Throwdown,” in which a participant chooses a brewery team to run with.
The first year, there were five brewery teams. Last year, there were 18. On Sunday, there are going to be 25.
He also pointed out one brewery, Bond Brothers in Cary, has chartered a more than 30-passenger bus to bring many of their team members down.
“I would say unlike any race in this area — and I would even argue unlike any event in Rocky Mount — this draws more people outside of Rocky Mount into our town,” he said.
Forrester, 46, is originally from Richmond, Va., and he has been a runner for just about his whole life. He had worked in banking for approximately a couple of decades and he is presently working in the health profession.
Julie Baggett, who’s the event and marketing manager at Rocky Mount Mills, said in a statement on Friday the campus is honored to host the event.
“It has been a privilege for our team to work with Michael Forrester and his amazing group of volunteers, who in three short years have built this into an event that draws hundreds of people, with the vast majority of the participants traveling from the Triangle to our beautiful destination here in Rocky Mount,” Baggett said.
Wit Tuttell, who’s the executive director of Visit North Carolina, said in a statement on Friday he believes the Mill Chill is a great example of how focusing on a sense of place makes for an outstanding event.
“By showcasing local beer, history and the natural scenery of Rocky Mount, the race draws runners from across the state. They want to experience what Rocky Mount and Rocky Mount Mills are all about,” Tuttell said. “When the runners come, they spend money in the community, bringing a tremendous economic impact.”
To follow the Mill Chill, go to www.millchill.com. A link to a video of the race’s route can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDYwjsFA86A&feature=youtu.be