Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Moser Column: fitting send-off to a running inspiration

This week's Moser column reports on the retirement of North Fort Myers H.S. coach of girls cross country and track, and advocacy spotlight is on the River of Grass Greenway update.

 Florida Weekly, March 5, 2014
Dan Moser
Southwest Florida is laden with talented athletes, most who excel because of key mentors and coaches who bring out the best in them. One of those special people is Loretta Purish, longtime coach of girls cross country and track at North Fort Myers High School, who is retiring after almost 30 years as an educator and mentor. Having known Ms. Purish mostly through the local running scene more than high school athletics for three decades, it was no surprise that she was given the kind of send-off she received at what was formally known as the Red Knight Invite, a track meet that drew nine teams this year. In Ms. Purish’s honor and in appreciation for all she’s done for NFMHS, the Lee School District, her students and the many athletes she coached, the track meet was named after her. A large “Loretta Purish Track” sign was unveiled at the meet as part of a going away ceremony. Congratulations, Ms. Purish, on being honored, but more importantly, for all the young lives you’ve touched in a positive way over the years. Your runner friends look forward to seeing more of you now that you’ll have some extra time on your hands.

Retiring Coach Loretta Purish with FMTC Buddies Astrid Soll and Maria de Leon
Retiring Coach Loretta Purish with FMTC Buddies Astrid Soll and Maria de Leon
Events update
There are some events to consider participating in over the next weeks and months.  Beautiful Lakes Park is the setting for a 5K walk to support pancreatic cancer research on Saturday, March 15 (

The very next day, the Day Adventist Church, which provides one of the best nutrition education programs anywhere, will be holding its first 5K event, Mission for Nutrition, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, across from Calusa Nature Center on Ortiz Avenue at Colonial Boulevard. There will be dental, vision, glucose and other screenings as part of the health and wellness expo taking place at the same time as the race.

 At the end of the month, on Saturday, March 29, have your pet join you at Coconut Point for the Fast and Furriest 5K/1M Walk (

 And don’t forget to get on your bike and ride Royal Palm Classic’s 15, 30 or 62 miles from the Fort Myers Brewery in Gateway ( on Sunday, March 16, and similar distance options at Legacy Trail Tour de Parks Ride from Venice on Sunday, March 23(

Advocacy matters
At a recent joint meeting of bicycle and pedestrian committees from Lee and Collier counties, an update was presented on how things are progressing for the River of Grass Greenway (ROGG,, the proposed pathway from Naples to Miami. While it’s a slow process due to many factors, from environmental matters to funding issues, supporters and volunteers who have been working to make this project happen are seeing things come together. When put in perspective, this is a much needed route because there’s really no practical way across the state by bicycle. Palm Beach Boulevard (SR80) is the only option, but it’s far from ideal, and is quite inconvenient for those wishing to head south on the east coast to the Keys. Additionally, it’ll be much more than a bike route since it’s primarily a separated pathway that will allow for many other ecotourism activities. Hopefully, the kind of political and funding support that’s coming together for the Coast-to-Coast Connector (, which will link the Tampa Bay area to the Space Coast, will be replicated for the very worthy River of Grass Greenway, located in our neck of the woods.

Be sure to check BikeWalkLee’s blog ( for more on this and other important matters related to our built environment.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and program director for Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at or 334- 6417.

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