To view team and individual winners of the relay, click on the links below. The files are PDFs that can be downloaded.
More than 100 runners teamed up Saturday to help Richmond Hill officials celebrate the opening Phase 2 of Sterling Creek Park, a half-mile natural running trail circling a 12-acre pond nestled among pines.
Mayor Russ Carpenter said Richmond Hill High School Cross Country/Track Coach Levi Sybert advised the city on what type of trail would most benefit runners.
That led to the widening of the path around the pond – a body of water which Carpenter said will be drained, refilled and stocked for fishing under Department of Natural Resources guidance.
There are more phases to come at the park, which sits on 187 acres the city bought for $800,000 in 2012 and already includes restrooms and nature trails, officials said.
The park, which opened in 2017, could eventually be the site of a Frisbee golf course, ATV trails, bike trails, a fishing pond, camp sites, fireworks and even zip line facilities “if we can work out the liability insurance issues,” Carpenter said.
He said the city also plans on improving Elbow Swamp Road – which now leads to the city’s wastewater treatment plant – to use it as an entrance to Sterling Creek Park. At present, the park is entered by driving through Sterling Creek Plantation subdivision.
Open 24 hours, the park will be monitored by Richmond Hill police, Carpenter said.
Sybert said the running trail not only helps his high school program, one of the best in Georgia, but is also a plus for the community.
“For all runners, really, this is a great place to go,” he said. “It’s just a huge advantage to have this here.”
Despite the chilly conditions, Saturday’s relay race, a competition where teams competed to see which could complete the most laps in two hours, drew runners of all shapes, sizes and ages. In all, 118 signed up.
“Teams bond really fast in a relay environment,” Sybert said. “Somehow, when you put people in a relay race, they just get pumped up.”
That was evident.
Teams in which runners dressed as different running Forrest Gumps– including one who yelled “run Forrest, run” as he left the starting gate – competed against teams of runners dressed as pro wrestlers such as Randy Macho Man Savage. The relay race also drew public safety personnel, as well as a large number of kids and teens, some running in RHHS school colors.
Carpenter said Sterling Creek Park, which now includes about seven miles of trails, is part of an ongoing plan to invest in more green space and recreational opportunities for Richmond Hill residents.
The city already has J.F. Gregory Park, which is heavily used, and there will be a smaller, 51-acre park at the now-developing Town Centre across Highway 144 from Ford Plantation, near the site of a new library and city hall. Carpenter said it will be more like Savannah’s Forsyth Park.