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More than just a 5K: Gem of the Highlands

September 25, 2019

This post was originally published on October 28, 2018. You can read the original content on the race below along with updated information for the 2019 race.  


The second annual Gem of the Highlands 5K will take place Saturday, November 2nd at 9AM.


The race will start on the corner of Smith and Floral near where Brick Coffee used to be. RIP Brick Coffee. We miss you. The race will start on the corner of Smith and Floral near where Brick Coffee used to be. RIP Brick Coffee. We miss you. There are turn by turn directions on the race website which you can find here. The price is currently (as of 9/26) $30, but may increase to $35 depending on how many people register. The goal this year is 400 runners.


Like last year, 100% of the proceeds will go back to maintaining the neighborhood of Norwood, specifically Norwood's parks. And, just like last year there will be an after race block party for folks to hang out and mingle. Awards will be presented to the top female and male finisher in each age group. 


We love this race because it's in Norwood (my neighborhood) and becuase it was founded by residents to benefit the neighborhood. Read the full story behind the race below from our original 2018 post. We hope to see you out on the course! 


Original Post from October 28, 2018: 


I first heard about Norwood maybe 6 or 7 years ago when I was still living in Columbus. Molly had just bought a house in what she described to me as a neighborhood close to Xavier with beautiful old homes that were starting to be restored. An “up and coming,” spot. Per usual Mol was right.  As the Oakley and Hyde Park real estate prices continue to rise, more and more young couples and families are being drawn to Norwood. Six or seven years later (who can really keep track anymore) my husband and I live here, in Norwood, in a home built over 100 years ago.  Our house is full of character, charm, and weird quirks that can’t be found in modern builds. It’s big, much bigger than we could afford elsewhere, which allows a resting spot for all of out of town guests. We have a great group of friends that live within a few blocks radius, and we’re central to all of Cincinnati’s offerings including my husband’s favorite bar The Pilot Inn. 



We think Norwood is a great place to live. 


That being said, the city itself is in an interesting situation. Norwood is recovering from years of economic turmoil after local factories and industrial plants closed. As a result, the roads need repaired (please, please, please), the parks need some love, the homes require attention, and the community needs connected. We think Norwood is a wonderful place to live, but there is much work to be done. This is why I was pretty damn excited to learn about the Gem of the Highland 5K taking place in t-minus 12 days. 


Why are you so excited about another 5k you might ask. For a lot of reasons. I met with John Cappella, Norwood resident, and Gem of the Highland Executive Committee member to chat. John explained that this is more than a race. It’s a way to celebrate a neighborhood that is rebuilding, revitalizing, and reconnecting. All of the race committee lives in Norwood and wants to see the city thrive. 100% of proceeds raised from the race go back to improving local Norwood parks. In addition, the team is throwing a pretty epic afterparty in conjunction with Off Pike Market. 


Insert sidestory here.


Off Pike Market was started by a couple, Taylor and Jason, living in Norwood who kept leaving Norwood to go to farmer’s markets and artisan markets in Oakley, Hyde Park, and OTR. One day Taylor asked her hubs, “What if Norwood had a market? What if Norwood had a place where small business owners, established businesses, and community members could meed and do together? What if this little market in Norwood brought LIFE back to this city?” So, like all crazy, cool people with a dream, they just did it. The November Off the Pike Market will be right outside Brick Coffee at the finish line of the Gem of the Highland 5K. The party is slated to last all afternoon with various community groups performing and numerous local vendors set up to sell goods. Even if you’re not a runner you’re going to want to walk down to Brick to check this out. Also, shoutout to Brick Coffee which I frequent every day in sweatpants without makeup. Thanks to the owners slash baristas for not judging me. 


And back to the race. The race itself will start and end at Brick. The race route is a loop through the Presidential District of Norwood. Ironically, it’s pretty close to the route my husband and I run every Monday night. The local police and fire stations have come on as title sponsors of the event, along with a number of other supporting sponsors including First Financial Bank and Shepard Chemical. 


When talking to John about the race he essentially had the same message about the race as Taylor did about Off Pike Market. John said, “We have homes here, but we’re not living here. Norwood can have a Hyde Park Blast. There should be an event that celebrates Norwood, where we can showcase local people, places, and things. There is a lot to offer here.”  I agreed.


So, again, this is more than a race. It’s a small city saying, “hey, we can do this too.” It’s community engagement and civic pride. It’s an effort for neighbors to connect with their fellow neighbors and to become friends. It’s an effort to raise money to improve the city where we (Norwoodians) live, our environment. It’s a shift. Can I call it a movement? Too far?


It’s also $25 until October 31st at which point it raises to $30. Race participants get a t-shirt and a goodie bag. Running optional. Walking welcome. The goal this year is 350 participants. Oh, and there will be sandwiches. After, afterparty at our house. 

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