Pounding the pavement for West Jackson Intermediate

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The West Jackson Intermediate School Shadow Shuffle Groundhog’s Day 5K found more than 200 people pounding the pavement to help raise money for the school. See more scenes in Katie Justice’s photo gallery below.

By KATIE JUSTICE, kjustice@clickthepaper.com

Punxsutawney Phil may have declared spring to be on its way on Feb. 2, but Gwinnett County’s own groundhog General Beauregard Lee’s prediction of more winter seemed to prove true during the West Jackson Intermediate School’s (WJIS) Shadow Shuffle Groundhog’s Day 5K.

Despite dropping temperatures throughout the race, the runners and walkers made their way through Hoschton to raise money for WJIS.

The race began and ended at West Jackson Park.

Joe Fejes of Hoschton was the overall race winner, finishing the 3.1 miles in 20 minutes and 35 seconds. The first female finisher was WJIS teacher and Jackson County Comprehensive High School track coach, Carly Ledbetter with 23 minutes.

Ledbetter was a chief proponent of the race, according to WJIS Principal Diane Carr. Carr said Ledbetter told the students that any WJIS student finishing before her would be given $1. The students were so fired up that at the beginning of the race when the crowd was asked, “Who are you going to beat?” The resulting, “Mrs. Ledbetter,” could be heard across the park.

However, no students beat Ledbetter; she was the fourth overall finisher.

“We didn’t have to give any dollars out, so all the profit goes to the school,” said Ledbetter jokingly at the end of the race.

Race participants ranged from toddlers to racers in their 60s, and runners didn’t just include students and teachers. Principal Diane Carr and Assistant Principal Laurie Hitzges both ran the 5K course and placed in their respective age groups.

When talking about the race, Carr said the race was just plain fun.

“We’ve got a lot of athletes and teachers that embrace being fit,” Carr said. “We’ve got great parents and kids. They so supportive all the time.”

WJIS 5K run

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Assistant Principal Laurie Hitzges ran the 5K course and placed in her respective age group.
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Butch, Isaiah, and Anna Maxey sign up to participate in the race.
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Elizabeth Slater, a student at Jackson County Comprehensive High School who runs track, warms up before the race.
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Joe Fejes of Hoschton was the overall race winner, finishing the 3.1 miles in 20 minutes and 35 seconds.
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Pounding the pavement, runners participated in the Feb. 2 fundraiser run.
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Even some four-legged participants joined in.
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Carly Ledbetter was the first female overall finisher and is a 5th grade teacher at WJIS and the track coach at JCCHS. She offered to give every student that beat her $1.
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Melissa Haney pins on son Will’s number for the race.
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More than 200 took part in the fundraiser.
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Rebecca Taylor, a student at Jackson County Comprehensive High School who runs track, warms up before the race.
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And they're off...
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Some West Jackson Intermediate School students and their families who joined in to support the race.
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Jackson EMC coworkers and friends of Barbara Gooch got involved in the fundraiser run.