A sea of runners sprawled through the streets of Tyler on an uncharacteristically warm Saturday morning during the inaugural Brookshire’s FRESH 15 race.
The event, which offered a 5K and 15K race, as well as a children’s 1K race, boasted more than 2,800 runners, Megan Riaz, Brookshire’s public relations coordinator, said.
The inaugural event was an unprecedented success, Trent Brookshire, Brookshire senior vice president, said.
“We had beautiful weather, we’re blessed with a beautiful location and a great community,” he said.
Brookshire said the race was conceived through a health and wellness movement within the company. That and Brookshire’s history of giving back to the community, he said, inspired them to organize the event.
Brookshire said 100 percent of Saturday’s proceeds will go to one local charity, Bethesda Clinic in Tyler, and a national charity, the American Heart Association.
“We wanted a charity that everyone would recognize and a charity that meant a lot to people in Tyler,” he said.
Ms. Riaz said with this being the first year of the event, organizers weren’t sure what to expect.
“We had no idea, because it’s our inaugural year,” she said. “We were hoping for 1,000 to 1,500 runners, but we put a lot of effort into advertising and marketing and trying to get the word out. … We hit 2,000 (runners registered) a week and a half ago, and that was just a highlight for us.”
The mood during the day, from the start of the races to waiting for runners to finish, was full of excitement.
“The excitement, the passion, the positivity and the energy have exceeded my expectations to a degree that I didn’t think was possible, Brookshire said. “It’s been amazing today.”
While it might be a bit early to start planning, Brookshire said Saturday’s success would certainly lead to another FRESH 15 next year.
“We will be doing another event next year, for sure,” he said. “With the energy that we’ve created, and the beauty that’s going on today, we have to do another one.”
Out of the 2,800-plus racers, two took home bragging rights of finishing first overall in the 5K and 15K.
Jeffrey Watson, 18, finished the 5K race with a dead sprint, even with no one close behind. He finished with a time of 17:19.
Watson, who runs cross-country and track for Lindale High School, was definitely in shape for the 5K, considering he ran two events in a track meet on Friday night, including the 4x400-meter relay.
Watson said he is planning on running at the college level either for the Coast Guard Academy or at University of Texas at Tyler.
The winner of the big race, however, was Enoch Nadler, of Dallas, who finished at 48:31:00.
Nadler, who runs semi-professionally, said that the race was a bit tough, thanks to the competition, the warmer weather and humidity and what he called the “tough Tyler hills.”
“I was looking for a good, strong race with tough competition,” he said. “There’s a few guys I’ve raced with before (here today). … And I knew they were going to give me a run for my money. They really pushed me out there.”
Nadler, as winner of the race, took home the $1,500 prize, which he said was an added bonus to winning.
“It’s never about the money, but what (the prize money) does guarantee is good competitions,” he said. “(But the paycheck) will get me some good running shoes.”
Nadler also mentioned he just qualified for the 2016 Olympic marathon trials in Los Angeles. He said he also is preparing for the Chicago marathon this summer.