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Stirring up memories


Keeping Up With the Harrises
February 1, 2006

January 6 of this year was cold, mighty cold. It was far colder than I expected when we trotted (and I mean trotted) out to the car headed for the Kiwanis Club Second Annual River Run. I could have talked myself right into staying home with a second cup of coffee in front of the fire, but I didn't. I put a headband on under my wooly cap, located a second pair of gloves and set out with Bob and our friend—and the reason we were doing this—Michael Douma, a history graduate student at FSU and Michigan native.

Michael didn't think it was too cold. In fact, he confided that after a little warm up he'd probably run in his shorts. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Turns out it was just above the freezing mark—around 35 degrees.

Once we got down to the park, I was glad I made the effort—and the Kiwanians provided me with the second cup of coffee.

We weren't the only ones to make this cold-morning effort. Seventy-four brave and healthy souls registered to run in either the 5K or 10K events, plus there were about 15 youngsters lined up all ready for the one-mile fun run.

As the runners took off, I began to get into the spirit of thing. If I'd only worn running shoes I might have hit the track myself. I set up at the 5K finish line ready to cheer the finishers. We didn't have to wait long—in just under 20 minutes the first place winner, sixteen-year-old Gabe Mitchell crossed the line. Others weren't far behind him. But it was the fellow who came in eighth in this field of 39 who caught my eye. He was little and he was fast.

The first time there was a lull I asked one of the fellows at the finish line my questions. "That little guy who just came in? Was he really in the race? Gosh! He's fast."

"He sure was in the race. And yes, he's fast. Can you believe that young man is only eight? All three of the Harris boys are fast. You should have seen his brother. Only four and he stayed right at the front in the fun run."

Soon the 10K runners started to cross the line. Our friend Michael came in first by a long ways—he was right about being good at running in cold weather. Michael left on a cool-down jog, and I continued my cheering. Here came another really fast kid. He zipped across the line in 11th place, and he was the youngest competitor in the 10K! Appropriately, he's eleven years old. A few minutes later I saw the three boys together and went over and introduced myself to Kyle, Chase and Caleb Harris. Caleb had grown cold, so Kyle was peeling off his new race tee shirt to share with his brother. But they didn't have much time to talk—their eyes were on the finish line.

"Come on, Mom! Yeah, Mom." They bounced and cheered as their mom, Julie Harris pounded across the line. What a family. But there was more. They didn't head back to the registration area—nope, they waited at the finish line and in just a few minutes, Dad Lee Harris came on in.

What a running family! I wanted to know more so I dropped by one afternoon and Julie and Caleb (who has turned five since the race), told me more about this running family.

Julie and Lee both grew up in the Atlanta area and both played soccer at the Decatur-DeKalb YMCA, but they never met until they were in college. Julie told me she has always loved to run. Her first race was when she was in her early teens. It was a one mile run, and no surprise. She came in first. Later she was on the high school track team running in the 440 relay. She kept playing soccer as well. She was on one of the very first women's soccer teams at her alma mater Georgia State University.

When she and Lee moved to Bainbridge in 1989, shortly after they married, not having kids of her own didn't keep Julie away from the soccer field. She started coaching as soon as they settled down.

Now all three boys play soccer and both their parents are active with their teams. Kyle and Chase will resume playing with the Thomasville Area Soccer Association later this month. Caleb plays here in Bainbridge.

In those early Bainbridge days, Julie also began to run again. She told me she would be at the YMCA, and when she finished her workout, she'd take off running around town. As the boys came along, the running continued. She bought a "racing stroller" when Kyle was a baby and took him right along. Lee joined her in running—she laughs and recalls entering one race where Lee and Julie each ran behind a stroller.

The whole family races now. Lee has competed in two marathons and Julie in two half-marathons. They race, she tells me, for the fun of it and as something they can do together. The boys have all competed since they were tiny guys. This was Caleb's fourth or fifth race.

Besides racing together, they run together. Julie runs usually six days a week, and often the boys come along. She no longer "runs around Bainbridge." Instead, she runs at the City of Bainbridge Nature Trail near the Boat Basin. The boys have their choice—they may run, bike or scooter—but they come with their mom as she runs. By making a "figure 8" on the trail the run is about 3.7 miles. No wonder those boys are so fast!

I asked for favorite recipes. Turns out the boys' favorite food is pizza, and their mother doesn't make pizza. She brings it in. She did share a couple of family favorites. The first is a recipe from her friend Barbara. Julie likes it because it's really easy—a dump and stir dish.

Miss Barbara's Cool-Whip Salad

1 tub of Cool-Whip

1/2 large carton of fat-free cottage cheese

1 can chunk or crushed pineapple, well-drained

1 package sugar-free cherry Jell-O



Dump all the ingredients in a bowl and stir well. That's it. Julie says that you can use other flavors of Jell-O but she usually sticks with cherry.

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

1 16-ounce can sweet potatoes

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

cut up apples (two or three should do)

Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Layer the sweet potatoes, apple and sugar mixture. Sprinkle with a topping made of 1/4 cup each flour, brown sugar, olive oil and chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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