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Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine

Annual Lake Burton Fun Run Promotes Healthy Lifestyle Through Fun Fitness

Jul 20, 2016 04:13PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

2014 Lake Burton Fun Run. Photo courtesy of the official website.

The first weekend of July, the Annual Lake Burton Fun Run took place. There were over 1000 entries, and was incredibly successful. 

Robert Nichols, a member of the Board of Directors, had a great time while there. "I was in the pace car vehicle with The Clayton Tribune photographer and our official photographer," he said. "I have not missed a Lake Burton Fun Run yet." 

A Little History

Lake Burton Fun Run was started in 1984 by founder Robert Nichols and is dedicated to serving local residents with an event that offers good, clean, safe, fitness and fun. Open to all runners, joggers, and walkers. A family event for all ages, the popularity of this event increases every year from a meager start in 1984 with 85 participants, to the current 1000 participant limit. In 1998 the course became certified by USA Track and Field. Official times from this event can be used for qualifying in other sanctioned athletic events. In 2010, the board of directors decided to become members of the Road Runners Club of America to continue to meet professional standards. The local chapter is named the Lake Burton Road Runners Club, Inc. a non-profit organization of which the Lake Burton Fun Run is the sole event. This event brings together  people of all ages from across the state and country and generally has several international participants.  

Proceeds from the annual event goes to support the three Lake Burton Volunteer Fire Departments,  Rabun Search and Rescue and the Rabun County Sheriff's Canine Division.


The Lake Burton Fun Run provides a world class Two Mile Run and Walk. The run promotes continuous physical activity and a healthy lifestyle through fun, fitness, and opportunity for all ages.


The Lake Burton Fun Run is to be the best organized and best conducted run in our area.
The event will be a friendly competition in a unique setting with unparalleled scenic views.
The run will broaden community cooperation and participation in a healthy event and help motivate participants to have fun as they exercise.

2016 Community Spirit Award - in Memoriam of Mack O'Kelley

Mack grew up in Rabun County in the early 50’s going to Athens Y Camp.
in his adult life he worked with the owner of Camp High Harbour for Girls here on Lake Burton.
From 1969 to 2013, Mack worked with Pop Pearson and Barbara and Frank Inman to
help develop Camp High Harbour. He created relationship with local vendors and organization
to support the camp and help in the mission of growing young people. From 1970 to 2013, Mack
spent all his time in Rabun County and specifically Lake Burton. He was the Site Director for
Camp High Harbour at Rabun Gap Nacoochee School during the summers from 1996 to 2001.
The entire time he supported his son at Camp High Harbour here on Lake Burton from summer of 1988 to the Summer of 2013.

Mack never met a stranger. He truly understood what it was to be a servant leader. He loved people and especially helping those who were in need. Camp High Harbour and his son would not be where they are if were not for Mack. The lives of those who attended Camp High Harbour and those who live on this little piece of heaven called Lake Burton are forevermore blessed to have met a man like Mack O’Kelley.

5 Star Performance Award - Barry Wood

Barry Wood grew up farming in the shadow of Burton dam. He went to work for Georgia Power while attending southern tech in the mid sixties, later transferring home by Georgia Power in the late sixties where he worked at the Nacoochee plant and later night shift in the gorge as a hydro operator. While working for Georgia Power, he began building on the side, which inspired him to later start full-time contracting in the early seventies.

In the late seventies, along with one of his brothers, Mr Fred Stuart, and several members of the community, he started Lakes Fire and Rescue, where he has been chief officer several times. Although he considers himself semi-retired, Barry still gets pressed into service by his son Matt, who is the current station captain.

Barry is a longtime member of Rocky Grove Baptist Church, where he serves as deacon and adult Sunday school teacher. His hobbies include being a beekeeper, mechanic, farmer, firefighter, plumber, electrician, builder, father, servant (of Jesus and the community), and a friend to everyone who knows him.     

Board of Directors Award - Jon Niemeyer

Jon is well known in the Lake Burton Community and in Metro Atlanta in the Tennis community. Jon helped organize the Tennis Venue for the summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. He has managed around 80 courts in Atlanta including Dekalb Tennis Center and Blackburn Park. He has been a long time summer resident of Lake Burton. Jon brings event experience, his marketing skills and his ready smile to the Fun Run board. Jon and his wife Eleanor plan on spending more time at Lake Burton with the completion of their new cabin.

For a list of full awards, visit the Lake Burton Fun Run website

Content courtesy of Robert Nichols, of the Board of Directors, and the Lake Burton Fun Run website.

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