They got on their mark, set and were off in record numbers at the North Canton ’s July 4 race.
Yesterday, 3,002 people participated in the 35th annual two- and five-mile races, 560 more than the previous participant record of 2,442.
The total does not include the 150 to 200 kids who participated in the firecracker dash (new this year) or the two-mile shadow run in Afghanistan. The shadow run was organized by North Canton YMCA member Mark Sunbury, who's serving overseas in the U.S. Army but still wanted to participate.
Debbie Goldthorpe, race director and associate executive director at the YMCA, said she wasn’t expecting to set a record.
“We were surprised that they just kept coming,” she said. “I think we run a really good race, and people know it. It’s (also) a good way to start the Fourth of July.”
Michelle Volpe, 27, of Hartville, said that ever since she was in high school, the race is how she, her friends and family start celebrating Independence Day.
“I’ve always loved this race because everyone’s here, home for the holiday, and you see people you haven’t seen in a while,” Volpe said. “It’s just a tradition. The North Canton YMCA does a good job to make it family friendly and fun.”
Joshua Miller, 12, and Caleb, 9, of Navarre, can attest to that. They were the two-mile winners in their age groups, 10-12 and 9 or under. This is Joshua’s fourth race and Caleb’s third and first time placing for both.
“I thought they had a good chance,” boasted proud dad Mark Miller, who also ran two miles. “The neighbors probably see us; we all go out as a family and run. They really trained well. Both improved their times by over a minute, and they both beat me.”
But scores aren’t everything.
“How’d you do,” Goldthorpe asked North Canton resident Joe Carpenter, 56.
“I finished,” said the 20-year July 4 race veteran.
“That’s all that counts,” Goldthorpe said.
That, and maybe having fun.
This was the first race for Joyce Deuble, 60, of North Canton, who ran two miles, pushing her granddaughter alongside her daughters Stacy Senff, 43, and Stephanie Geitgey, 41.
“I couldn’t believe the energy,” she said. “It was so much fun.”
Perhaps the real winners yesterday were members of YMCA Strong Kids Campaign and Physically Challenged Program, who will receive the money from registration fees.
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