On Thursday, April 20, several hundred runners from across the state chose to spend their afternoon running the Healthy High 5K, 10K and 1 mile fun run races rather than partaking in more controversial festivities going on elsewhere in the state.
The event is meant as a healthy alternative to the traditional festivities popular on college campuses as a part of the “4/20” mythos. Participants lined up a little before 5 p.m., but right on the hour, the excited crowd was given the go-ahead to cross the starting line.
The Healthy High is hosted every year to promote healthy physical activity. This year, the start time was 5 p.m. instead of the usual 4:20 p.m. due to scheduling conflicts. Originally, in addition to the race, a pre-race concert featuring the local groups Ex Pandas, The Cards and Phosphenes was scheduled. This was canceled due to the poor weather conditions.
This race also supports a variety of different outreaches both local and national. Participants and supporters were encouraged to bring in new or lightly used sneakers and other shoes in order to donate them. The organization Soles for Souls will send each pair they receive to people in need of footwear around the world. In addition to Soles for Souls, proceeds also went to Black Bears for Recovery, LiveWell Wellness Coaching and the Black Bear Exchange (the on-campus food pantry and clothing exchange).
Racers came for a variety of their own reasons as well. A group of at least 30 people represented Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a cause that stands against the rape and abuse of women. Not only did they come prepared with signs and balloons, but several male participants also literally walked a mile in women’s shoes—bright red high heels to be exact. Many participants seemed to think this impressive, with the participants in the heels struggling toward the finish line for much of the race.
Other people had their own reasons for taking part in the race. “I registered two hours ago,” English student Grace Marshall said. “I didn’t do it last year, but I did it the year before and I liked it a lot so I decided to do it this year. My favorite part is when you get to the point with all of the frat houses and they are all like ‘Yeah Yeah’ then you are like ‘yeah, this is pretty cool.’”
Courtney Pilon was joined by her mother Deanna, who had traveled up from Massachusetts. Courtney had long been practicing for this race. To her it meant a chance to improve her time from last year and to see how far she had come this year.
“I am excited, and my mother has a lot of energy,” Pilon, a zoology student, said. “Last year it was super fun and I did it without stopping and people were very encouraging along the way, I liked it a lot.”
Other groups, mostly fraternities and sororities, had set up stations along the course where they gave out water, blasted some pump-up tunes and encouraged the runners as they went along the long stretch.
“I feel great, I did it about the same time as I did last year, keeping pace with my mom,” Pilon said after the race. “I feel incredible. I am so proud of my mom, she did it. She pushed herself so hard.”
This race had hundreds of participants and was able to bring together people of all ages in support of the charitable organizations. For the coming year, look for the race to get even bigger, as college attendance soars and it increases in popularity.