Getting up at 5:30 A.M. on a Saturday isn’t my favorite thing, but as I drove to Cook Park in the semi-darkness I was treated to the sight of 2 hot air balloons hovering over farmland with the flames periodically glowing in the sky. I decided it wasn’t so bad to be up early after all. Besides, I was excited to run the Hero Up 5K. It felt like it had been awhile since I had been at a race.
I arrived at the park and picked up my packet without much of a wait at all. I had plenty of time to get myself ready and then observe all the great superhero costumes meandering around getting ready for race time.
Hero Up was created by a mother who lost her young son to brain cancer at the age of 4. This race was created in memory of Keith to celebrate his life and to raise money for children’s cancer research. Keith was a big fan of super heroes and his mother loves to run. Thus, Hero Up was born. This year marked the 10th running of this event. And they definitely had it dialed in.
Despite the rather somber nature of the creation of this race, this was a festive event. Truly a celebration of life. A DJ had upbeat music blasting and the overall vibe was cheerful. The call to get ready to run was made by a very enthusiastic Wolverine. His energy was infectious! He counted us down and we were off. The start of the race course was lined with posters of children who had some form of cancer. Each poster listed the child’s name, cancer type, and their favorite superhero along with the child’s photo. Seeing this line up of young faces made me teary for a few moments as I started my run.
We meandered through Cook Park and Durham Park celebrating these brave kids. There were volunteers at every turn along the course and they were full of positive energy. It was great! Even though there was a kids race after the race, there were many kids of all ages running the 5K as well. The 5K course was mostly on pave paths through the park, but there were a few sections of well-groomed trail. I enjoyed the traffic-free nature of this event that ran through forested areas, open fields, and even a butterfly garden.
At the finish line we received finisher medals. And, there was plenty of water available and a variety of post-race snacks. You could even grab a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread to take home afterwards. (I definitely got my bread!) I took more picture and chatted with fellow racers and friendly volunteers. Even though I came to this race solo, it really didn’t feel like it. Hero Up felt like a community event and everyone was part of that community. No question, I will be back to run Hero Up again.