HEFLIN — Nearly 200 runners and walkers, some clad in festive green, enjoyed a chilly Strides of March 5K here Saturday morning.
The 5K was part of an annual Irish-themed festival, known as St. Paddy’s on Main, which also included a color run, pet parade, food vendors and games for kids.
A strong, cold breeze greeted the runners and walkers as the horn told the crowded field to move out as fast as its collective legs could carry it.
Betty Brown, a walker, was clad in a green jacket, green hat adorned with a clover and a checkered green scarf.
“It feels good at 81, it’s good to be anywhere, something to be thankful for,” Brown said before the race.
The winner of the race, Kayd Hightower, 16, a sophomore at White Plains High School was glad to finish as he had recently recovered from an injury.
“I did good, it was my first race back from my hip injury, so pretty proud of it. I wanted to try to get under 20 minutes,” Hightower said. His time was 20:22 despite the relentless wind and small hills along the way.
Longtime runner Nancy Grace from Anniston said it was her 37th year to run. Her critique of the race looked at the positive side of grueling course.
“Well, it’s kind of tough, has a lot of hills but it was beautiful out in the country roads and around the lakes,” Grace said.
“I love it, the wind is really rough but I run a lot better in the cold weather than I do in the hot,” she said.
Grace said she is looking forward to next month, when she will run in a 15K race on April 6, the day after she turns 80 years old.
Danny Henderson, 35, trotted over the finish line at the 24-minute mark wearing a green tutu and a T-shirt which read “Prone to Shenanigans.”
“It was enjoyable, plenty of looks,” Henderson said after the race.
After the awards were given out for the 5K, a colorful one-mile fun run was held. There were several stations where volunteers doused runners and walkers with copious amounts of colored powder which swirled about in the strong breeze.
Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith was one of the volunteers blasting participants with the sticky, multi-colored powder, but the tables were turned when several kids ambushed Smith, who temporarily disappeared into a cloud of turquoise.
“Loved seeing them all laugh and smile, that’s what this event is about to create community pride and just great fun,” Smith said.
The kids declared victory by raising their arms and laughing.
At noon a pet parade began behind City Hall and meandered along Ross Street. It featured more than 50 decorated pets, including at least one goat. Mayor Rudy Rooks was part of the procession, too.
“It’s so much better than last year. It’s a little bit cool, wind’s blowing but it’s not raining,” Rooks said.