Mini-Flood 66: Northside Trap Run

photo by Ann Aurbach

The Northside Trap Run is St. Louis’ first hip-hop themed 1 mile walk/5K run & festival aimed at empowering North St. Louis neighborhoods, and unifying grassroots, civic, educational, commercial and residential efforts to bridge the city’s north-south divide. Part of the mission of the Trap Run is to highlight north St. Louis by bringing people to the neighborhoods the event seeks to benefit (the race passed partially through The Ville and Greater Ville, Lewis Place, Central West End and Vandeventer neighborhoods).

photo by Joe Harrison

photo by Theresa Harter

 

photo by Mike Matney

 

photo by Joe Rakers

For the organizers, the day started early (and ended late). Photo Flood Saint Louis was onsite before sunrise, and the Trap Run setup was already well underway. Before 6am, temperatures had already soared past 80 degrees, and they would peak that day in the mid-90’s. We should take a moment here to just note that the team behind this project is an incredibly dedicated and talented group consisting of members of Northside Community Housing Inc, Rise STL and others. For many years, they have conducted amazing work in the hemispheres of community development, with a strong commitment to St. Louis’ often overlooked and under appreciated, North Side.

In terms of the Trap Run, the start/finish line was near the intersection of North Sarah Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, which was also the location for the festival. Participants took a route along North Sarah Street south to Washington Avenue, east to Vandeventer Avenue, and north to St. Louis Avenue. Cheering and water stations, featuring local DJs, were located along the route. A post-race festival featuring vendors and live musical performances also took place near the start/finish line. For a team with no formal experience hosting a foot race, this was a very smooth experience, setting the bar high for next year’s event.

photo by Jason Gray

 

photo by Sue Rakers

 

photo by Ann Aurbach

 

photo by Theresa Harter

Let’s take a time-out from the event for a moment to reflect on the area, and why it was selected for the Trap Run. At the top of this article, you can click on the names of the neighborhoods for a more detailed history of each, but in short, this area was once a major center of Black prosperity, civil discourse, and progressive influence. The neighborhood of The Ville, for example, was home to Chuck Berry, Annie Malone, Arthur Ashe, and Black institutions like Sumner High School (first African-American high school west of the Mississippi) and Homer G. Philips Hospital (an important training facility for Black physicians). Nearby, Vandeventer was constructed as one of the most opulent private places in the Country, but during Jim Crow was home to an overcrowded (due to segregation) African-American community known as the Finney Avenue District. It was within this community that the “straw man approach” was conceived of for overcoming racially restrictive deed covenants. This led to one of the City’s first integrated private places, in Lewis Place, and eventually to a U.S. Supreme Court Decision that made such covenant agreements illegal.

White flight and redlining had a profound impact on the area beginning after desegregation and continuing into the 1990’s. During this time, population deteriorated and the health of these once proud neighborhoods declined. However, organizations, such as those behind the Trap Run, are today working diligently with local government, neighborhood associations, private investors, non-profits and church groups for a concerted and united community development front, and the results are showing up in neighborhood gardens, park revitalizations, new construction and more.* With this in mind, the tenth anniversary of the Northside Trap Run is likely to see runners pass through an area with a much different face than this year’s (in the six years that Photo Flood Saint Louis has been walking the city’s streets, we have already observed some of these changes).

*This process requires lots of support. Click on the links for the organizations mentioned above to see how you can help.

photo by Theresa Harter

 

photo by Joe Rakers

 

photo by Mike Matney

 

photo by Joe Harrison

Once runner registration was complete, 2018’s Trap Run kicked off with a warm-up by Back Trap Yoga‘s Brittany Hill with nearly everyone participating. Following this, the Black National Anthem was performed, with runners lining up at the starting line afterward. The first-place runner completed the race in just over 18 minutes, a great time, but perhaps the story of the race was a 74 year old named Roni, who was taking part in her very first 5k. Cheers erupted as she crossed the finish line with a big smile.

After the race, the vibe transitioned over into festival mode, with beer courtesy of The Civil Life, food trucks, and lots of community vendors talking part.

On the main stage, a wrap-up session of Back Trap Yoga was followed by public speaking, music and dance performances, and eventually the award ceremony for the winning runners.

photo by Jason Gray

 

photo by Ann Aurbach

 

photo by Sue Rakers

It is safe to say that the Northside Trap Run is not like other 5k’s that you are likely to attend. There is a sense of purpose behind it (like many races), but the real heart is in the participating community. Most event organizers would write off these areas of the city as site options, but this would be a mistake. It was clearly evident that nearby residents were interested in what was going on, eager to participate/cheer on runners, and extremely welcoming to all involved. For an area imagining new horizons for itself, it is expressions such as this event that make others imagine those horizons too.

photo by Ann Aurbach

 

photo by Theresa Harter

 

photo by Mike Matney

 

photo by Jason Gray

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