Crystal Cales is adamant about keeping the water of Lake Gaston clean. The Quality Water Awareness Campaign (Q.W.A.C.) founder was on hand Saturday to distribute medals to participants that traveled the 6.5K Bridge & Back for Q.W.A.C. event from the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce across Eaton Ferry Bridge and back to the Chamber.

“The idea is to promote the freshness of the water to keep the lake water clean,” Cales said. “It’s to teach people to be good stewards of the water and good practices as far as septic systems, pesticides, not blowing your leaves into the lake and things of that nature so the lake stays clean for a long time to come.”

The participants gathered at the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce Parking lot at 8 a.m. Representatives from the Roanoke Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary, Lake Gaston Association, and Allen Garrett of WTRG Radio were already on site to talk to participants and bystanders as the countdown to the 9 a.m. start time for the race approached.

For many, the race was serious business. Bracey, Virginia’s Christian Lecher, 14, hopped out of the gate to lead the pack and never looked back, crossing the tape in 25:15. Husband and wife team of Logan and Julie Hawley finished second and third, respectively, with times of 27:33 and 29:23.

Warren County District 2 County Commissioner Tare Davis remained near the front of the pack throughout the run. Davis said he was on hand to support the community.

“It’s a great cause,” Davis said. “Anytime you have an organization like the Chamber put something like this together it’s always a good time to come out and show support. Not only that, it stimulates the exercise part of it, and being healthy. As a Warren County Commissioner representing this district, it is truly an honor to be out here.”

The diversity of the Bridge & Back participants brought attention from those on hand before, during, and after the race. A.M. Newsom Insurance Agency of Littleton sported the most distinguishable squad of participants. All wore tutus to appear as ducks. The costumes were a Jan Sullivan brainstorm. She said some of the team weren’t happy about wearing the costumes. However, the team members joined Newsom to participate in the Bridge & Back for Q.W.A.C.

“We’re here representing Littleton and the A.M. Newsom Agency, and Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce on this beautiful day,” Sullivan said. “We’re here to walk and run away.”

Precision Race Results recorded the official times for the runners and walkers. As participants crossed the finish line Precision Race Results called out their names and hometowns. They would later have their times texted to their phones.

Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Leanne Patrick grinned from ear to ear after another successful Bridge & Back for Q.W.A.C. event.

“We’ve been so pleased with the support,” Patrick said. “Last year, the inaugural event was the first time that we planned an event like this. It was the first of its kind around the Lake Gaston area, but with the support of the community and the area we had a successful event and we are having another successful event this year.”