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This South Florida track event continues honoring legacy of its legendary founder

The Holt family keeps the legacy alive. From left, son Reggie, son Darren, wife Claudette and son Alan.
The Holt family keeps the legacy alive. From left, son Reggie, son Darren, wife Claudette and son Alan.

The Northwest Express Track and Field Classic, South Florida’s largest track and field event, will stage its 43rd annual running beginning Friday.

And, according to Alan Holt, the man who now directs the event, the meet will exist “forever.” The reason for that is simple: His father, Jesse Holt, would want it that way.

Jesse Holt, the man who established the meet, died of a heart attack in October of 2016. There was no way the Holt extended family — and that’s a considerable number of determined people consisting of wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, grandchildren, etc. — was going to let this event fade away

Alan Holt eventually found out that his father had a devious little plan to make sure the meet would continue after he was gone.

“He shared his vision with his sons,” Alan Holt said. “To be honest, he was grooming us without us even knowing it. Once he passed, we simply kept doing the things he had taught us.”

How important is the meet?

There will be approximately 2,300 athletes competing at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar over three days. The age range goes from 4-year-olds to an 85-year-old, although young people are the focal point of the event.

The event’s field is international with a competitor even coming from Ghana. Many local South Florida teams compete. Many U.S. states are represented. Many contingents from the Caribbean happily show up. In total, 13 foreign countries participate.

Part of the atmosphere at the meet is kids of all ages communicating — even if there is a substantial language barrier.

Some of that communication is non-verbal — a handshakes, a pat on the back, hugs and always smiles and laughter. Learning to trade a few words is a bonus.

“Somehow, the kids figure a way to learn a little about each other and the places where they came from,” Alan Holt said. “That’s what I like most about it — the international flair. Through the competition, kids and individuals get exposed to different people and cultures and accept and enjoy each other.

“It’s a picture of the best of societies all getting together.

“These days, that’s valuable.”

Many of the athletes participating in the Northwest Express Classic possess high-caliber capabilities.

OK, it’s difficult to tell how good a 4-year-old is. Only time will tell. However, there are standout high school and college athletes also in the mix. In its 43 years, medal-earning Olympians have competed in the Classic.

Jamaica, the sprint capital of the world, is a major participant.

“Jamaica sends international teams to two meets in the U.S.,” Alan Holt said. “The Penn Relays ... and the Northwest Express Track & Field Classic.”

Then, Alan Holt gave some closing words and a promise:

“You know, this meet meant so much to our dad, and now it means so much to our entire family.

“This meet speaks volumes of what my dad wanted and accomplished.

“It’s not going away.”

THE LEGACY CONTINUES

What: 43rd Northwest Track & Field Classic.

When: Friday, June 8 through Sunday, June 10.

Meet Schedule: Friday — 5 p.m. start for both track events and field events; Saturday — 8 a.m. start for javelin, followed by other field events; track events begin at 10 a.m. Sunday — Events begin at 10 a.m.

Competitors: 2,300 track and field athletes from around the world. Mainly children, but an age range from 4 to 85 years old.

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