LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The Fourth of July kicked off with a foot race in downtown Lexington.
The Bluegrass 10,000 has been an annual tradition in Lexington since 1976. It’s notoriety brings some of the top athletes in the area every year to test their pace.
“I ran at the University of Kentucky. I did the steeple chase. After graduating in 2018, I ran professionally to train for the Olympic trials. I love this race. It’s like my fourth or fifth time doing it,” said Katy Presley.
The reach of this race spans outside the state as well, bringing in runners such as overall male winner Sam Duncan, traveling from Dayton Ohio to take on the Bluegrass 10,000.
“This is probably the fastest race within two hours or so of Dayton. It was definitely well worth the trip. I had people to run with for most of the race,” Duncan said.
“Having it on the Fourth is fun and Lexington is a really great place for it. Running through downtown is really fun.”
Downtown Lexington was riddled with people pushing themselves to the limit to get to the finish line, some visibly exhausted by the end.
However, for Alex Mortimer, this race means a lot more than some healthy competition.
It’s a step toward normalcy, after months of recovery.
Mortimer, a graduate of Tates Creek High School who went on to run track at Milligan University, was running with two of his teammates when a car hit them in April. One of his teammates was killed.
It’s been an uphill battle for Mortimer to get back on his feet, but it’s also brought him so much joy to see how far he’s come.
"Two months ago I was in a wheelchair. It's been a journey getting back in shape and walking again. Just to be here at 23 years old makes me so grateful just to be alive,” Mortimer said.
“It's hard not to have a smile on my face when I potentially could have never run again."
Months of rehab to get back to the point of standing, walking and finally running, a feat that Mortimer views as a great gift to hold onto forever.
"Just to be out here pain-free, outside of the pain of a race. There's these things in life that are challenging but are so worth it. It's been a wonderful time back in town running this race,” Mortimer said.
This year was the first time Mortimer had run the Bluegrass 10,000 since his time at Tates Creek High School.
Sam Duncan was the overall male winner of this years race with a time of 31 minutes and 17 seconds while Katy Presley was the top runner for women with a time of 35 minutes and 31 seconds.