Some ran, some walked, some got a bit winded.
And some sprinted the last bit of hilly stretch to finish the inaugural Gainesville Walks, an event several sponsors — including the city government — hope will become a healthy routine for area residents.
“This is every day, not one time a month or one time a week,” said Brandon Evans, a Centennial Arts Academy teacher who helped lead the event, to the crowd gathered at Fair Street School.
Evans pushed for people to show for a daily walk through April, starting at 6 p.m. at the school at 695 Fair St.
“If you can’t come (to Fair Street), you can go in your neighborhood or meet some friends somewhere,” he said. “We’re just trying to promote fitness, exercise, getting fit and staying healthy.”
Monday’s kickoff, which also involved Brenau University, Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County and the community activist group Newtown Florist Club, attracted a couple of hundred or so people.
In what was a festive atmosphere, people arrived early and mingled as music played, picking up water bottles and fans with Gainesville’s logo from tables set up for the event.
“What a beautiful day to walk in the city of Gainesville,” Fair Street Principal Will Campbell said, trying to rev up the crowd before the event.
“This is wonderful. We have people from all walks of life, from different schools, we have children here, adults who wish they were children again. It is good to see you all out here.”
After Evans led the group in a few minutes of stretches, the group headed on the 1-mile route in two groups: walkers and runners.
Participants trekked through a mostly residential area near the school, following Fair Street to Center Street, then Prior Street, College Avenue, Race Street and Hunter Street back to Fair.
Some zipped ahead while others kept a steady pace.
Evans waited for the participants as they finished the course, delivering high-fives and words of praise.
“Up the hill and you’re done,” he said to the walkers heading up Hunter.
Belinda Dickey of local group Sunshine Seniors said she was happy to team with other participating organizations “for healthy living.”
Standing nearby, the Rev. Evelyn Johnson, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Mill Street, agreed.
“We’re excited that this is an intergenerational group,” she said.
Johnson said she believes people “don’t walk enough.”
“We walk if we have to, but not for the sake of enjoyment,” she said. “I think it helps unclog your brain and give you a new perspective.”