The 9th Annual Healthy High Race took place on Wednesday, April 20th at 4:20pm. Participants began at the New Balance Recreation Center with a 5k, 10k, and 1 mile walk option. Photo by Sze Wing Wong, contributor.
The 9th Annual Healthy High Race took place on Wednesday, April 20th at 4:20pm. Participants began at the New Balance Recreation Center with a 5k, 10k, and 1 mile walk option. Photo by Sze Wing Wong, contributor.

On April 20, University of Maine Student Wellness once again hosted the Healthy High 5K/10K race. This was the ninth time that UMaine Student Wellness put on the event, and roughly 700 runners participated in the race that started at 4:20 p.m.

“The whole reason we started this race, it starts on 4/20 at 4:20 p.m., and if you know the legend of 4/20, you know that is a day where people choose to celebrate the use of marijuana,” Director of the Student Wellness Resource Center, Lauri Sidelko, said. “There are a lot of reasons that people associate the number 420 with marijuana, but the most common myth is that 420 is a police code for marijuana. So it’s common practice all over this country, for people to use that as a time to use marijuana. We are health and wellness promotion, and we wanted to offer an alternative program on that day and at that time.”

“I think it’s unique,” Program Specialist for Health Promotion at the Student Wellness Resource Center, Mamie Clarke, said. “I’ve never heard of any other school doing anything like this before.”

The race had three different categories that participants could choose from. An estimated 700 runners could choose to compete in a 5K course that extended between the New Balance Rec Center all the way to College Avenue. Or runners could take a more advanced route, and compete in the race’s 10K course, where they extended the race down College Avenue to Witter Farm and into the bike trail. For those that wanted to be less competitive, but still enjoy the Healthy High, they could participate in the one-mile fun run.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Clarke said. “It’s a wonderful alternative to getting high on 4/20, and getting a runner’s high instead, or getting people more engaged in the community. A lot of students get a lot from it, and are really happy afterwards.”

The winner of the 5K was Adam Sukennik, who registered the day of the event, and the winner of the 10K was Greg Palka who is from Orono.

In addition to the Healthy High 5K, the Office of Sexual Assault and Violence Prevention, as well as Male Athletes Against Violence, decided to team up and continue a one mile walk that started two years ago, known as the “walk a mile in her shoes.”

“They walk a mile in her shoes by walking a mile in high-heel shoes,” Sidelko said. “Which I would imagine is not that easy given the terrain.”

In addition to runners, the race attracted plenty of volunteers and spectators. There was roughly 200 volunteers that helped make the race go smoothly. Volunteers signed up to complete tasks, such as directing traffic, handing out water and motivating the runners as they went by. There were also 500 spectators that came out and watched the race.

“We had been recruiting volunteers all year long,” Sidelko said. “We had student organizations, we had sports teams, we had people who need to do service hours. We basically got a little bit from all over.”

“I think because we have so many participants, volunteers, and spectators, it really kind of brings us all together,” Clarke said. “We had the cheerleaders there. We had volunteers from all over campus. Some volunteers were there for extra credit, so being able to help them academically is really important. A lot of students forget what it’s like to volunteer, and they realize how fun it is. I think that’s really great that they found that and want to do more for the community afterwards.”

Considering that the race will be in its 10th year next year, UMaine Student Wellness has a lot planned to celebrate the past decade that the Healthy High race has been going on for.

“Next year our hope is, since it’s the tenth year anniversary, we know that some students have some classes, so I think we’re going to actually, instead of starting at 4:20 p.m., we’re going to start a little later around 5:00 p.m,” Sidelko said. “I think what we’re going to do is have a band and a barbeque, and do a bigger event to celebrate our 10 years. We’re hoping to have 1,000 participants next year.”