Henderson’s glow run in darkness serves as a pre-solstice party

The hills were aglow June 17 as runners took part in the city’s Glow Worm 5K Fun Run, contributing to what organizers called the biggest turnout in the event’s three-year history.

More than 230 attendees marched onto the trail at Equestrian Park South and Trailhead in glow-in-the-dark gear to complete the 3.1-mile course. For the noncompetitive activity, the participants varied in age from children to elderly and took off on the paved track at 9 p.m. to the beat of a synthpop remix of Katy Perry’s “Roar.”

“This is our way of getting people out on the trails,” said Henderson Recreation Program Coordinator Lisa Sickinger.

The Glow Worm run, one of five fun runs Henderson Parks and Recreation puts on each year, featured free T-shirts, glow bracelets and necklaces for the first 350 registered participants. Despite the 100-degree heat, the crowd stretched with low-intensity dance moves and took off from the “start” balloon arch with a collective cheer.

The city used new strategies to spread awareness of the event, advertising online and at Henderson-area gyms, Sickinger said.

“It really blew up this year, which is really crazy considering it’s a lot hotter than last year,” she said.

The run took off from the entrance of the trailhead, continued along Equestrian Drive, then turned around at River Mountains Loop Trail, where an aid station stood ready for runners in need of assistance.

Participants were encouraged to go at their own pace, whether it be a leisurely stroll or marathon practice.

Using her light-up iPhone case as a glow-in-the-dark accessory, Henderson woman Laurie Gibson considered the fun run practice for a 10K race she intends to run in England with her son.

“We have to get in shape,” she said. “It’s at the Kew Gardens. Our whole family is flying over, so we thought this would be a fun practice, although the weather will probably be different there.”

Aside from the glow run, Parks and Recreation hosts Bark in the Park in February, when participants are encouraged to run with their dogs, the Zombie Run in October, where the recreation staff dresses up in Halloween-themed costumes, the Color Me Kind Run in November and the Reindeer Dash in December.

The current fun runs aren’t sponsored by nonprofits, but the city intends to create a sixth fun run in February in partnership with the American Heart Association.

The first few runners to complete the glow run arrived at the finish line in less than 30 minutes. Organizers were ready with water bottles and medals as participants passed under the balloon arch again in near-darkness, four nights before the summer solstice would bring with it the longest day of the year. A few street lamps from the above parking lot allowed family members to watch their loved ones finish the run on the path below.

Organizers gave participants two hours to complete the 5K.

“We got lost at first. We came in the wrong way and just followed someone, and they led us to the track,” said Kathi Grijalva, who brought her 73-year-old father, Roy, who has Parkinson’s disease.

Roy Grijalva rode along the path on a scooter equipped with a cooler of water and survival essentials should he get lost. Grijalva took off ahead of her father, knowing he could complete the run on his own, she said. The Grijalvas are Cahuilla Indians.

“He used to be an engineer, but he’s lost everything,” Grijalva said. “He can barely put a puzzle together, but we try to stay as active as we can.”

Grijalva heard about the 5K through friends and decided it would be a good challenge for her and her father, who live on Sunrise Mountain. She high-fived runners, complimenting their outfits as they passed.

“I like watching all the lights,” she said, looking out onto the desert track. “One of them is my dad. He’ll find his way.”

Twenty minutes later, her father drove under the balloon arch decked in his glow-in-the-dark gear.

Asked why it was important for him to complete the run, he said, “By the tracks you leave, you will be known.”

Contact Alex Meyer at ameyer@viewnews.com or 702-383-0496. Follow @alxmey on Twitter.

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