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On Saturday, Dec. 23, a flurry of activity surrounded Marco Island’s Wesley United Methodist Church as runners and spectators attended the 39th Annual 5-Mile Hill Run.

Promptly at 8 a.m., 403 runners sprang from the starting line and raced the streets of the Estates and Indian Hill along the in-and-out course.

“We were happily surprised by this year’s turnout,” said Dawna Holowell, volunteer coordinator. “We had 384 pre-registered participants and 403 at our final count. That’s 100 more than last year.”

Spectators and volunteers anxiously waited along the finish line ready to cheer on the finishers. Luckily, their wait was short-lived as overall winner Kurt Roeser crossed the finish line with an impressive 5:07 minute mile time.

Shouts and cheers encouraging runners to finish strong could be heard along South Barfield as the rest of the participants ended their five-mile challenge.  “Water & Gatorade to your left” was shouted by Brendan Tanner as he passed out participation ribbons to the runners.

“Today, I’m a volunteer. I hurt my knee yesterday, so I can’t run today. I’ve been a part of this race since my mom ran with me in a stroller,” explains the 10-year old Tanner.

The event concluded with the traditional awards ceremony praising the runners’ accomplishments and efforts.

The 5-Mile Hill Run is sponsored by Gulf Coast Runners. Proceeds of the Run benefit Lely High School’s Cross-Country program.

For more information go to gcrunner.org.

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