The Longleaf Heights Neighborhood Association hosted the Resilience 5K race in Hattiesburg on March 26 in an effort to promote neighborhood recovery efforts in the wake of the EF4 tornado that struck the city in February 2013.
The tornado affected the Longleaf Heights neighborhood and destroyed parts of the city. Event organizers hosted the event to celebrate the local community’s recuperation efforts since the storm.
“We feel it’s not only important for a neighborhood to rebuild but also withstand outside pressures, like when the tornado cut through the neighborhood several years
ago,” said event organizer Brian Casey in an interview with WDAM. “We want to encourage the neighborhood to come back and rebuild.”
According to the Longleaf Trace’s website, the race marks the opening of the newly finished Phase III section of the Longleaf Trace, which stretches about two miles from Southern Miss Gateway located behind Century Park North to Main Street Downtown.
Runners began and finished the race at Westminster Presbyterian Church on 25th Avenue, which was hit hard during the 2013 tornado, looping down the newly paved portion of the Longleaf Trace and through the Longleaf Heights neighborhood.
Organizers intended the race to strengthen relationships between community residents and local business owners.
In the spirit of this purpose, runners who dropped off their registration forms at local businesses, including T-Bones Records, Moore’s Bike Shop and Sacks Outdoors, before March 17 each received one $5 gift card to the stores.
In addition to those sponsors, other local businesses, such as Soccer Locker, Southern Prohibition Brewing, Freedom Pharmacy and the Hattiesburg Zoological Society, also supported the event.
Money raised from the race’s sponsors and registration fees will be used to replace neighborhood signs and fund outreach efforts in other areas of Longleaf Heights.