Story & Photos By Nathan Solis
A light rain trickles down on members of the newly formed Highland Park Running Club at San Pasqual Park. Various runners are present at this morning meet; some training for a marathon, others just want to stay physically active.
“I didn’t like running in high school,” says Highland Park native Jessica Nerio, who runs in the back of the group with the beginners, her voice upbeat as she keeps pace. “I didn’t understand it, but now I can’t go on too many days without going on a run and just getting out.”
Nerio founded the group this November with brothers Saul and Cesar Narro. The Narro brothers, who have been running since elementary school, want to create a community of runners who appreciate the neighborhood and the surrounding areas. “Anyone who knows Highland Park will tell you it’s not very flat so you’ll gain strength from running here,” Saul Narro says.
The runners’ morning course is a horse trail that hugs the Arroyo Seco, muddy, dotted with horse hooves. Trees along the trail are yellows, reds, greens. Dried up branches reach out from the shrubbery, and the air is crisp. The route is approximately three miles into Pasadena to the foot of the Colorado Street Bridge, and then back to Highland Park.
Everyone in the running group is encouraged to run at their own pace as some are more advanced. Cesar Narro stopped running 15 years ago after donating a kidney to his father and only recently began running again. At the front of the group is librarian Andrea Garcia training for a race. Running ahead is her daughter, son, and husband shouting encouraging words at each other. Also in the front of the group is Brandon Arrevillaga, who runs track at Santa Monica College. He’s just come off the graveyard shift, but he ran from his home this morning as a warm up.
“It’s one of the nice things of running, of being part of a community of runners, to have a group to meet up with and run together to share the morning,” Arrevillaga says.
The sound of distant traffic still makes its way to the horse trail as the runners pass by dog walkers or families marching along the trail. Fifteen minutes into the run the rain begins to let up and the group has found their rhythm.
At the point where the trail ends everyone makes their way back. The Colorado Street Bridge looms overhead and in its shadow the runners begin to head back to Highland Park. From atop the bridge the trail looks like a concrete ribbon stretched across the landscape. On the trail back the runners pass horse stables, the smell of hay and manure mixing in the air and at the end of the trail runners cheer from an elevated bridge. Nerio asks, “How’d everyone do today?”
The run ends with club members stretching, patting each other with big, exhausted smiles on their faces.
Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.
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