Williams Lake 10K Trail Challenge to take place May 24

Published 9:50 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Originating around 1820, the Coon Hill community in north Santa Rosa, developed a need. They needed a cemetery to bury their loved ones. The cemetery is still there today and recognized as the oldest in north Santa Rosa County. The closed-in quarters of the Coon Hill community was located near a big spring and fresh water. It had a general merchandise store, stable, blacksmith shop, Pony Express Station, U.S. Post Office and a Church that alternated between Methodist and Baptist. The concrete wall was poured about 100 years ago. The sand and gravel used in construction of the wall was hauled from Diamond Creek, approximately ¾ of a mile, using slip scoops pulled by mules.
Unfortunately major desecrations over the last 12 years have caused alarm and sadness for the relatives that have family buried there. Other community members see this as a sad disregard for lives and the memories of those buried there. “This cemetery is a part of our local history. It is our duty to preserve our heritage and the landmarks that make our small communities so unique”, said local resident Matt Dobson. “It’s a real shame someone would do these things to grave sites all in the name of getting a thrill or for just plain meanness.”
Dobson, who lives in the New York community of Jay, decided to be creative and coordinate a fundraiser for the preservation and restoration of the cemetery. Being a competitive runner, he decided to coordinate a run called the “Williams Lake 10K Trail Challenge”. The race will take place on May 24, 2014 at 7:30am. We’ve had a very good response from the people in Santa Rosa and Escambia counties, said Dobson. We sought sponsorships to cover the costs of t-shirts and race awards and folks have stepped up to help.”
The 10K course actually runs in the woodlands nearby, but east of the Coon Hill Cemetery. The out-and-back course begins where Williams Lake Road starts. The course is all dirt, grass, and has a minimal amount of sand. The race runs through the Escambia River Water Management Area to the Williams Lake boat landing, a distance of 3.1 miles. Participants will turn around and run or walk back to complete the 6.2 mile distance. “We’ve had organizations to want to be involved and are providing volunteer help for water and aide stations along with other race amenities. We sought approval from the Santa Rosa County Commissioners and after we got their approval, it was full steam ahead on planning”, said Dobson. The Coon Hill Cemetery Trustees are excited about the big run and grateful Dobson is coordinating it. The Jay Historical Society is supporting the event and hopes the community recognizes the significance of the benefit.
“We have a fun t-shirt design and unique wildlife character awards thanks to the significant contributions of our sponsors. I’ve been running with wildlife in these woods since I was a kid. I thought it was a very good idea to highlight them on the trophies. I don’t think the award winners will be disappointed”, said Dobson.
Matt Dobson’s personal ministry called Living With Purpose is coordinating the event along with his father Roger Dobson. Registration forms are available to print from the website: www.living-with-purpose.org and other businesses around town.

To benefit the preservation and restoration of the historic COON HILL CEMETERY!
Date: May 24, 2014
Start Time: 7:30am 10K
9:15am ½ Mile Kid’s Run
10K Entry Fees: $20.00 Prior to Race Day
$25.00 Day of Race
$15.00 Entry without Shirt
½ Mile Kid’s Run (10 and Under): FREE!….$10.00 (with T-shirt)
The Race: Will take place in the beautiful, scenic woods of northern Santa Rosa County; south of Jay, but north of Chumuckla. Directions: From Hwy. 90, take Chumuckla Hwy. (197) for approximately 20 miles then turn left on to Brownsdale Loop Road, follow the road and turn left on to Gomillion Lane, Williams Lake Road will be ½ mile. Coming from Jay on Chumuckla Hwy, turn right on to Brownsdale Loop Road, turn right on to Gomillion Lane, Williams Lake Road will be ½ mile. The Race start and finish is approximately 1.5 – 2 miles once you turn off of Chumuckla Hwy. Directions to the race and a course map will be made available at packet pick-up.
The Course: Packed dirt with some small areas of gravel and minimal sand. The course is red dirt roads with an incline approximately one mile from the finish. It’s an Out-and-Back course that takes you all the way to the Williams Lake Boat Landing and Camp Grounds where you will turn around and come back to the finish. Restrooms (port-a-johns) will be available at the start/finish area and the turn-around. Water/Aide stations will be at approximately the 2.25 mile and 4 mile markers.
Packet Pick-up: Friday, May 24, 2014 from 4:00 – 7:00pm at New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community, 10995 Chumuckla Hwy. 10995, Jay, Florida; and at the Race Site on Race Day.
Awards: Overall Awards in 10 categories and Top 3 in the following Age Groups: 10 an under, 11-13, 14-15, 16-17, 18-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75 and up.
Unique, Rustic, Wildlife themed awards to the winners. ALL ½ mile runners will receive an participation award!
For More Information or to register call: Living With Purpose (850-217-2603)
MAIL FORM AND ENTRY FEE TO: New Bethel Baptist Church, 10995 Chumuckla Hwy. Jay, Florida 32565
Make Checks Payable to: Coon Hill Cemetery Trustees
You may be asked to sign a waiver at packet pick-up. Race Results will be posted on the website: www.living-with-purpose.org. Also please visit the Jay Historical Society website (www.jayhistoricalsociety.org) and click on “Pioneer Stories” to learn more about the COON HILL CEMETERY

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About Adam Robinson

My name is Adam Robinson and I have been the Sports Editor of the Brewton Standard since September 2007. I cover all the local sports in the Brewton area. I am a 2007 graduate of Troy University with a degree in Print Journalism with a contract in Sports Information. I married Shari Lynn in June of 2007 and we welcomed our first child, Hatlee, in April of 2010.

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