Kids scoot down the track at Moriarty High School and head toward the finish line with the collective goal of getting a lollipop, a hug and maybe a high-five.
More than a hundred folks came out to Moriarty’s twilight track meet this week ready to run and have some fun. “Yeah, it’s a whole family event,” said Peter Romero, Moriarty’s head track coach and organizer of the weekly event.
Moriarty’s free, family-friendly summer twilight track meets—a tradition that got canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid—resumed on June 7.
Held every Tuesday evening in June, Romero said about 80 or 90 people came out the first week. On June 14, there were well over 100.
“It had to be 120-plus,” Romero said.
“I’d say 120 to 150,” added Joe Bailey, Moriarty’s former athletic director who started the event more than 10 years ago.
At 6:30 p.m., the first race—a dual 1,600-meter and 800-meter event—got underway with about 40 people crowding the track.
At the pop of the starter’s pistol, the runners took off, trotting around the 400-meter asphalt-colored track that circles Moriarty’s football field.
Some of the runners ran four laps, completing the 1,600-meter trek. Others bailed out after two laps for an easygoing 800 meters.
“That’s definitely the biggest 800-1,600 we’ve ever had,” Romero said about the number of runners who ran the first event.
The combo-distance run was followed by several shorter races, starting with the 50-meter “Lollipop Dash” for little tykes. Every participant got a lollipop after finishing.
“It’s just fun to watch those little ones take off, they’re all over the place, but they make it to the finish line,” Romero said.
Ava Young, with her little legs, finished the race holding her mom Antoinette Young’s hand.
“She’s 19 months,” Young said about Ava. Young said she must hold her daughter’s hand because, “She gets distracted half-way through.”
Up next were the 100, 200, and 400-meter races.
Alyssa Sauter, who graduated from Moriarty in 2017, ran the 100 and the 400.
“It’s a great environment, all these young athletes, kids and their families, it’s really a family thing,” Sauter said.
Five-year-old Madison Tidwell ran in several races. When asked what she likes about running, she shrugged, “I don’t know.”
“She likes all the races and running fast,” Madison’s father, Darrell said.
Kinlee Corr, an 11-year-old, rising sixth grader at Edgewood Middle School, ran a few races, including the 100 and the 200. Her sister Ellie, 9, her dad Patrick Corr, and her mom, Katie Spence also hit the track for a few races.
“It’s really fun, I like it,” Kinlee Corr said. “It’s good to get some exercise and not just sit on our butts all day.”
Spence, who ran the 1,600, said, “We enjoy sports, Kinlee’s in soccer, and we just like activities and it’s fun seeing everybody.”
The night wrapped up at the sand pit for the long jump—which was more of a short hop and a skip in the sand for some of the youngsters.
Romero said the twilight track meets appeal to families because everyone is welcome, whether they are 1 or 100 years old.
“It’s nice, it’s low key and it’s something to do,” Romero said. “Kids are looking for something to do, parents are looking for something to do with their kids, it’s a good time.”
The twilight track meets continue June 21 and 28 at Moriarty High School starting at 6:30 p.m. The cost is free.