A line of runners sprint gracefully through a wasteland of grey hills and valleys.
They have been running for nearly 15 minutes at this point, past towering metal structures, worn construction vehicles and watching figures that sit or stand, pointing forward to the next checkpoint, leading them inexorably towards the finish line.
Finally, the figures top a steep rise through the tree line, turn a corner and are met by the road and breathtaking views of the Bluegrass Materials Quarry.
But they can’t stop yet. The end is close but not yet in sight, and these runners want desperately to win the annual Boulder Dash race.
Held this past Saturday for more than 1,300 runners from Forsyth County and beyond, the annual Boulder Dash Run gives people a challenge, winding miles down and around parts of the Bluegrass Materials Quarry on Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
According to James McCoy, president and CEO of the Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, this is the eighth year that the chamber has hosted this event, and public interest in it has grown every year.
"It was phenomenal. It has just grown a little bit every year,” McCoy said during the race Saturday. “I suspect based upon registrations this morning that we will probably surpass previous years and go over 1,500 people or so.”
McCoy said that the race has been a collaboration with the event title sponsor, Northside Hospital Forsyth, to raise money for the Forsyth County Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that helps to support park development in Forsyth County.
But even larger than the fundraising motive, McCoy said that the event is a tribute to the health of Forsyth County and its residents.
"This is all about celebrating a fit Forsyth, celebrating that we are No. 1 in Georgia as healthiest county in the state,” McCoy Said. “Events like this help keep us that way."
McCoy said that the race promotes health at all age levels with racers both young and all taking part in the fun.
“I think the oldest [racer] we had was 92 years old, a World War II veteran that ran the race today, so it really runs the gamut,” he said.
One runner, 14-year-old Caroline Harris, was the overall female winner of the 5K with a time of 22 minutes 37 seconds.
Harris said that this win was the culmination of a lot of training and hard work after several years placing second overall in the event. She said that in past years she ran the race for Girls on the Run, a nonprofit organization that empowers and coaches young girls.
"I did it for Girls on the Run and I always got second overall. But I always wanted to get first overall, and now finally I have," she said.
"It feels really good after all of those years spent trying," she added with a huge grin.
That sort of enthusiasm and happiness is what race coordinator and Executive Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, Jimmy Lane said that they are hoping to get out of the event.
“I have had multiple emails and text messages today from people I don't even know who ran in the race and say, ‘We ran in the race and had a great time, thanks for doing it,’" Lane said on Monday. “And that makes us feel good about all the hard work we put in."
Lane said that they see potential for the race to keep growing larger and larger, but for now they are satisfied with the turnout and the feedback.
"I think it can become maybe close to 2,000 runners,” Lane said. “This is the time of year when these events happen, right now we are in that 1,200 to 1,700 runner range, and I'm happy with that."
Female Overall, 5K: Caroline Harris
Female Masters, 5K: Amy Rose
Male Overall, 5K: Issac Hernandez
Male Masters, 5K: Bruce Catanzarite
Female Overall, 10K: Renice Bridger
Female Masters, 10K: Molly Reilly
Male Overall, 10K: Filemon Lopez
Male Masters, 10K: Norman Wenger