Run local, support local.
That was the tagline for Forest Park Forever’s fifth annual I Love Forest Park 5K and Kids Fun Run, which was held Sunday, September 13. As the only sponsored run in Forest Park that directly benefits the Park’s maintenance and restoration, this year’s race featured a new, scenic route that captured the beauty and history of this local treasure.
Registration began at 6:30 a.m., with Jane Holtzman of Yoga Six St. Louis leading participants in a stretching routine. As the morning dew began to fade, runners and walkers listened to announcements from Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director Lesley Hoffarth as she thanked them for their support and encouraged them to keep up their efforts to make Forest Park our community’s healthy living headquarters.
“This is the biggest race we’ve ever had — more than 650 attendees have come out in support of Forest Park,” said Hoffarth. “That’s up from 400 runners last year.”
Sporting her “I Love Forest Park” t-shirt, Hoffarth beamed as she saw hundreds preparing for the 3.1-mile course. While most were decked out in traditional running gear, some participants added an extra bit of flair — donning everything from pink and green tutus to super hero flags and bandanas.
When the horn sounded at 7:30 a.m., the runners were off on their new, more scenic journey. Runners passed a number of historic landmarks including Pagoda Circle, the World’s Fair Pavilion, the Boathouse and the Emerson Grand Basin. Big River Race Management helped create the new route and was instrumental in the promotion and planning of the event.
Tom Eckelman, Partner at Big River Race Management, noted that with LouFest taking place on Central Fields the same weekend in Forest Park, it opened up the opportunity to explore this more unique and scenic route on the Park’s west side. “Most runs here don’t take place on the west side of the Park,” he said, “so this was quite a treat for our runners!”
The Kids Fun Run and a post-run party, complete with music and refreshments, took place immediately after the 5K. The awards ceremony for the winning runners followed, and Hoffarth again thanked attendees for their support.
A common theme throughout the morning was the sense of pride that the runners and walkers take in Forest Park. Hoffarth and Eckelman both echoed that pride and the underlying sense that Forest Park is an integral part of the St. Louis experience. “Ninety-five percent of my runs take place in Forest Park,” said Eckelman. “I guess I never realized how important this park would be to my life.”
To read Forest Park Forever's press release about this event, go here.