Runners in the Thanksgiving Day 5K fun runs enjoyed themselves on the morning of the holiday. About 100 children ran short races, while others ran 5-kilometer races in Hamilton’s Highland Park neighborhood, in a fundraiser for the YoungLives ministry. PROVIDED

Hamilton’s Thanksgiving 5K grew to more than 1,000 runners in just 4 years

Organizers had been hoping for 1,000 this year, after 714 last year, to help the non-profit organization. The race grew from 30 runners in 2015 to 360 in 2016 and 537 in 2017.

There’s plenty room for growth next year in the event that happens in Hamilton’s Highland Park neighborhood, said race founder Katie Powers.

“We netted $23,000,” she said. That exceeded this year’s goal of $20,000.

“We had 700 signed up by the early-bird deadline on Nov. 15,” she said. “We typically do have a significant increase in registrations the last couple of weeks. That’s pretty standard for a Thanksgiving 5K. People like to wait ‘til the last minute.”

“I am just blown away by the support in the community for this race and the way that so many families are making this a tradition,” she said. “We had 100 kids sign up for the kids’ fun run, and that’s one of my favorite parts, is seeing 1-3-year-olds jogging around the Wilson Middle School Parking lot, then the 4-6-year-olds, and the 7-10-year-olds. They are so excited to be a part of it.”

More than 100 volunteers helped, and several new sponsors joined other ones. This year’s runners came from West Chester and other parts of Butler County, and even some from Cincinnati’s West Side, because Queen City Running, which partnered with the event has a location in Cincinnati, she said.

“One of the neat things that’s resulted from the growth of this race is we’ve been able to hire, for the first time ever in the nine years of ministry for teen moms, a part-time staff person,” Powers said. “And that’s huge, because our ministry, and our impact in the community, has been growing over the past five years.”

“And we’ve had an increasing need to have someone who’s not also doing an additional full-time job,” she said.

Mark Gruenbacher, 26, of Hamilton finished first with a time of 17:55. The first-place female finisher was Gabrielle Davis, of Hamilton, finishing in 19:26.

Here were the age-group winners:

• 14 & under: Aiden Schumacher (20:45) & Kayla Compton (24:13);

• 15-19: Jameson Maynes (18:28) & Haley Braker (23:38);

• 20-29: Peter Stubbings (19:42) & Audrey Wallace (21:11) (Wallace was also the top finisher at the first-ever 5K race);

• 30-39: Cam Potts (18:46) & Kara Yates (22:31);

• 40-49: Troy Embree (19:26) & Krisitin Scherman (22:02);

• 50-59: Ron Hoffman (19:52) & Ann Gruenbacher (25:20);

• 60-69: Brian Elwell (22:20) & Franki Brinkmann (25:32); and

• 70+: Jim McGruder (33:53) & Cammy Lowe (47:03).

The ministry’s all-volunteer leades include K.K. Kwiat, who has led it for 9 years and served on the race committee since the first year, as well as Faye Meyer, Leslie Logan, Eric Hynes, Sheila Chambers and Kamie Dixon.

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