The community spirit of Highlands was alive and well this past Saturday evening. I saw it first hand as a runner in the Annual Twilight 5K Run.
Under Derek Taylor’s leadership, this race has evolved into a premier running event. An old track buddy from my high school days, Bobby King, joined me in the race. He has run in several area races and confirms that this race is in the upper tier.
Let explain why I believe the race captures the Highlands sprint. First, Highlands is a community committed to health and wellness where folks run, walk, swim, workout and bike daily throughout town. So, I wasn’t surprised that the lion-share of the over 360 race participants were from this community. The race turnout was tremendous. There are 980 permanent residents in Highlands, so the equivalent of about one third participated in the race.
The Highlands spirit went beyond the large runner turnout. There was a tremendous volunteer turnout. The Highlands Rotary Club, the major race sponsor, had a legion of volunteers helping put on the race. At every intersection there were Rotary race marshals working to insure runner safety. Many other businesses also provided sponsorships.
Highlands has a tradition of supporting nonprofits. Proceeds from this year’s race will go toward establishing a mental health and counseling program for area youth. Diane McPhail, is heading up this new program and was the race starter.
Runners were encouraged by many folks sitting and standing by the race route encouraging their friends, neighbors and visitors running through their neighborhood. This support underscores the fact Highlands is a friendly, welcoming community.
Also, I saw the town spirit in the enthusiastic support from our police, volunteer firemen and recreation staff. I was especially moved by the volunteer firemen who walked the entire race in their fire uniforms that included 80 pounds of gear. They did it in tribute to fallen firefighters.
I had been training with our legendary track coach, Morris Williams, and my goal was to finish under 30 minutes. I came up short by 26 seconds.
After crossing the finish line I decided to go over to 5th street to run the last 300 yards of the race with my six year old granddaughter who was running her first 5K. She was running with her great grandmother, Jean Trott, who was on her way to setting a new record in the women’s 80 to 84 year old group. When I saw my granddaughter, I told her we could run together. I think she thought I said let’s race. She took off and left me, so I went over to the finish line to cheer her and her great grandmother on to complete the race.
The race reaffirmed for me that this is a special community. I want my granddaughter to run with me the entire race next year. At seven she will set a fast pace and leave me in the dust at the last quarter mile. Maybe I will break 30 minutes.