by MICHELLE GREENE
In the heart of Highlands County, where agriculture and ranching are not just occupations but a way of life, the Highlands County Cattlewomen’s Association is gearing up for an event that promises to lace up community spirit with the love for the great outdoors. “Run the Ranch 5K” is set to take place February 24 at Rafter T Ranch. This event is more than just a race; it’s a fundraiser for scholarships for local high school seniors.
Run the Ranch is in its ninth year, and organizer Jan Shoop is excited for the upcoming race.
“It’s a beautiful morning,” Shoop says. “You can see and hear the cattle and it is just so peaceful.”
The 5K path is a shell road that is well maintained. For those worried about four-legged roadblocks, there’s no need to fear.
“All the cattle are safe inside their fencing, and sometimes the Wohl family will have their horses out,” Shoop says.
Last year, the Cattlewomen’s Association raised more than $6,000 for scholarships that benefit seniors in the Highlands County School District and virtual students.
“Our sponsors like Alan J Automotive and Cowpokes Watering Hole really work to help make it all happen,” Shoop said.
Runners will receive a shirt with an original design by Carol Mills from Lake Placid with their registration, and top finishers will receive a medal. There is also an educational component to the race; runners receive literature on the beef and the agriculture industries in Highlands County. In the past, there have been up to 100 runners at the race, though COVID decreased the entries in the past few years. This year, the organizers are hoping for more than 60.
“It is making its way back up,” Shoop says confidently.
Through this race, the Highlands County Cattlewomen’s Association continues to weave a legacy of community and agricultural pride with a lasting impact far beyond the finish line.
For more information or to register for this race, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/Sebring/HighlandsCountyCattlewomensRuntheRanch