Monday, March 19, 2012

Cove2Clover Unites Highline

Runners and walkers gather for the start of the Cove2Clover event
A week ago I participated in the Cove2Clover 5K race in Normandy Park and Burien. What a fantastic event! The post below is a little long - I've been drafting it over two weekends - but I hope it helps you get a sense of this event, a rare opportunity for students and staff from all parts of Highline to come together...

The "Snake" mascot on a race bib
For months now, I've been hearing about Snake Hill, the defining feature of the Cove2Clover 5K race, a wonderful community event that was held on March 11th. The "Cove" refers to a community beach on Puget Sound in Normandy Park, Washington. "Clover" is a play on Mick Kelly's Irish restaurant, located on high ground in Burien. The two are linked by Snake Hill, a winding ascent of sleepy neighborhood streets climbing nearly 1,000 feet in vertical elevation over the first mile of the course. The legend of Snake Hill grows every time a runner - especially the strong ones - talks about the pain they have felt on the incline. 

Of my 1900 fellow 5Kers at the Cove2Clover, the vast majority are in better shape than me. But I felt OK about the infamous ascent of "Snake Hill," as I've been training for the Big Climb fundraiser for LLS and will be climbing 1,311 steps in the Columbia Tower this Sunday.

Current and former Chinook MS students with Principal Demick

Amazingly, C2C is only in its third year. However, nearly 2,000 participants ran or walked the 5K, 10K, or kids race. The coolest part is the partnership with our Highline schools. Students are able to participate through angel donations of registration costs. And locally based Brooks donated hundreds of running shoes for the kids. I've worn Brooks for more than a decade, and I was proud of them when I saw so many beautiful running shoes on the kids, many whose families qualify for free lunch at school.

Waiting for the race to begin, I saw dozens of Highline friends getting ready to go. Highline Schools Foundation executive director Ashley Fosberg was revving up the crowd at the 5K start line, while Highline School Board member Bernie Dorsey and his wife Jill were handing out the race's trademark blue gloves. I met up with principals Mark Demick (Chinook), Jennifer Reinig (Des Moines), Rick Wisen (Hilltop), Mike Fosberg (Marvista), and Annie Mizuta and Jacob Ellis (Cascade assistant principals). And after the hill and a short run where I aggrevated my IT band (knee), I settled into a nice conversational pace with Fred H., a parent from when I was principal of Beverly Park.

There were too many teachers to even remember, and many, many kids. I loved seeing our students from all reaches of the district there. Heidi Hanson, who leads a running club at Des Moines Elementary, claimed the highest student attendance, but PE teacher Heidi Jacobsen-Beal from Beverly Park told me they had several dozen as well. I saw kids from Cascade, Chinook, and White Center Heights, just to name a few.

A bagpiper marked the top of Snake Hill - look how big the ascent is!

As the 5K participants lined up at the start line, the 10K runners whizzed by with lots of encouragement from the waiting contestants. Soon, it was time to go, and then we were off! The hill starts right away, so after some ceremonial steps running, most people settled into a steady uphill walk or light job.

As we approached the top of the hill we heard bagpipes. That motivated those around me who were worn down by the mile-long incline. When we reached him, we found a fully decked out bagpipe player standing at a clearing that showed just how far we had come from sea level. It had a sense of accomplishment to it, and the image, which you will see below, reminded me of the end of a leg of the Amazing Race.

Highline HS students acted out a Celtic battle during C2C

But the race was not over! It settled into a more normal 5K from there. There was only one more eventful aspect to the race - the "uprising!" This was random - a stack of hay bales across the course that runners had to climb over, or take a small detour as a penalty. I went over the obstacle, and it was fun, including a boisterous group of Highline High School students acting out a Celtic battle.

Shortly after, we turned for home on a relaxed straightaway down 152nd Street, passing homes fronting Lake Burien and crossing into several blocks of popular restaurants. Although I had walked ever since my IT band acted up, I broke into a run for the last part of the race and finished feeling good.

That's me with my Heathly Highline hat (photo credit: Ashley Fosberg)

The end of the race brought me into contact with more of our Highline family, again reinforcing just how much events like the Cove2Clover can do to unite our entire district. What a wonderful day.

And I survived Snake Hill!

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