every runner has a story

Meet Bob & Sherry harter

Bob and Sherry Harter exemplify that even if you’re not actively running, you can still make a significant impact and give back to the running community through dedicated volunteering and support.

Bob and Sherry Harter have volunteered at nearly every LRC race for the past three decades.  In 1993, Bob learned to use the LRC Time Machine for race timing. Sherry became his worthy assistant in 2004, handing out finisher cards (runners filled out their names, and then the card was matched up with the time from the Time Machine to create results), a volunteer task they performed for 15 years until all LRC races were timed using the automated chip timing systems in service today. Bob and Sherry still perform manual timing duties at the Polk Senior Games each March.

Bob Harter’s running journey began at the age of 45, encouraged by Diana Campbell, a member of the Lakeland Runners Club (LRC). Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, during World War II, Bob moved to Lakeland at the age of two and has lived here ever since. He worked for Florida Tile for 45 years. Sherry, his wife, was born in Marion, Ohio, and her family moved to Lecanto, Florida, just before her senior year of high school. She worked as a registered nurse for 54 years.

Bob’s first memorable LRC race was the Early Bird 4 Miler in Imperial Lakes. He recalled, “A runner commented on my canvas sneakers, which led to my introduction to running shoes.” From there, he participated in all the local races, including the Citrus Classic in Winter Haven, the Strawberry Classic in Plant City, and Tampa’s Gasparilla. Shortly after he started running, Campbell became president of the LRC, and Bob took on the role of treasurer. He also served as race director for the Christina 5K for eight years.

One of Bob’s favorite running memories was in 1993 when he ran the Peachtree 10K in Atlanta. Fellow LRC members encouraged him to sign up for the inaugural Disney Marathon in 1994. Despite thorough training, Bob was struck by a respiratory bug, making the race a miserable experience.

He tried again, and his perseverance paid off when he successfully ran a second Disney Marathon in 1998. That year, he encountered a sea of runners in purple shirts from Team In Training (TnT), an organization that raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Inspired, Bob joined TnT and raised $27K while training for the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage and the Maui Marathon. Over the years, he ran 15 some of the sport’s most iconic marathons: including nine Disney Marathons, Anchorage, Maui, Big Sur, Marine Corps, New Orleans, New York City, and completed over 30 half marathons.

Sherry was previously married to one of Bob’s closest friends, Fred, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack in 2002. Fifteen months later, Bob’s wife of 33 years, Windy, succumbed to lung cancer. Sherry began jogging with Bob the day after he ran the Big Sur Marathon in 2005, and they were married in 2007. She ran with the kids at the Red Ribbon Run in Lakeland and served as race director for the Highlands County Red Ribbon Runs for three years. Although her running journey was curtailed due to a foot injury, Sherry still cherishes the memories of running several 5Ks and three half marathons, including the Disney and the Gasparilla half marathons with Bob, and the St. Pete Women’s Half as a solo effort.

Reflecting on their experiences, Bob shared, “The LRC has grown tremendously since I joined in 1990. We both enjoy meeting and greeting all the runners and walkers while we volunteer at the events.” The welcoming atmosphere and supportive community of the LRC have significantly contributed to their enjoyment and commitment to fitness and supporting the running community, making it a central part of their lives. Bob remains active by walking Lake Hollingsworth most mornings and enjoys walking with Sherry at Bonnet Springs Park once a week.  In addition to their volunteer service to the club and other organizations in Polk County, the Harters enjoy spending time with their  11 grandchildren & 3 great grandchildren.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

More To Explore

Meet Kim Baker

Kim’s story exemplifies the transformative power of running, showcasing how it not only fosters fitness but also provides profound connections and opportunities for personal growth.

Read More »

Meet Ken Steckert

Ken likes running fast.  While his approach to training may not be textbook, he discovered what captivates so many of us about the running community – that everyone is welcome and the right way to run is simply to get out there and run. 

Read More »

Meet Jon Mott

A two-time Olympica Marathon Trials Qualifer, Lakeland runner Jon Mott set a personal record (PR) 2:18:03 and won the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon on Dec 13, 2020. In 2017, Mott won the Detroit Free Press Marathon in 2:22. You can find Jon running the Lake Hollingsworth area most mornings and afternoons.

Read More »

Meet Louis & Cheryl Irwin

As Louis approaches the remarkable milestone of 50 years of running, and he and Cheryl celebrate over 20 years of volunteering with the Lakeland Runners Club, their commitment shines as a beacon of dedication and passion within the running community.

Read More »
Meet Bob & Sherry Harter