Comedian Kevin Hart stepped across the white finish line and collapsed on the grass beside Brush Creek.
“Oh God,” Hart said, sweat dripping down his forehead. “Why?”
The entertainer had just finished his “Run With Hart” 5K in a personal best of 21 minutes and 30 seconds, and he was hurting.
Hart is not a runner. But he is a celebrity, and he’s trying to use his platform to encourage others to get healthy.
“I don’t train,” Hart said. “I’m not a guy who is up every single morning running and trying to go to the Olympics. I don’t have a track meet coming up. I’m simply doing it for my health. I’m doing it to stay in shape.”
Hart, who performed on his “What Now” tour Saturday night at the Sprint Center, hosted the pop-up 5K at Brush Creek Community Center Saturday morning.
The run was free to the public and drew a large crowd, from avid runners to families and first-timers.
“I really like Kevin Hart and I’m trying to get more into shape, so it was a good combination,” Maritza Delgado, 24, said of her motivation for running with Hart.
Thirty-year-old Eva Reed from Kansas City used to run in college but said it had been a while since she laced up her running shoes.
“It’s a good challenge,” Reed said.
After he recovered from his 3.1-mile run, Hart was ushered beside the finish line to encourage other participants.
“Good job, ladies,” he called out to a group of women walking along the trail. “Way to push! Keep it up!”
A man, sweating through his Chiefs hoodie, approached the finish line as he held a young boy in his arms.
“Running as a family, that’s what I’m talking about!” Hart said as he high-fived the two.
Although Hart got his start as a stand-up comic, he’s expanded his career into television and movies and become one of the most well-known comedians and actors in the business.
“For me, it’s about motivating those that support you, and at the end of the day, I don’t want to be great by myself,” Hart said.
As the run wrapped up, one lone jogger came around the bend, the last of the pack.
Antonia Miller, 55, had never run before. But when she heard about Hart’s Kansas City 5K on TV, she showed up in her bright orange leggings and tie-dye T-shirt, ready to run.
Hart and his team ran to meet “Miss Toni,” as the crowd chanted her name, cheering her toward her first finish.
“I love you,” Miller told Hart after she crossed the white line.
“I love you, too,” Hart said.
Miller grabbed a water and sat down as she caught her breath.
“I feel OK now,” Miller said. And as for the attention she got from Hart?
“I felt like I was somebody,” she said.
Later, in the middle of a crowd of sweaty, tired runners, Hart told Miller’s story.
“Today was Miss Toni’s first run,” Hart said. “Miss Toni, don’t let it be your last.”
“It’s not a race,” Hart said. “It’s about starting something as a group and finishing as a group. For those who don’t do it, it’s the first day of a possible new beginning.”