When the racing whistle blew Sunday morning, loud cheers erupted as more than 400 runners ignored the brisk 39 degrees to start the Central YMCA’s Frosty 5K run.
For some, it was a multigenerational moment.
“It’s the first race we’ve run together,” said Cathy Miller. She and her son, Shawn Stafford, and his 11-year-old daughter, Cevanna, all ran together.
“We do it to stay in shape,” Shawn Stafford said shortly before the race began. “We are stressing because the race starts in three minutes.”
Daughter Cevanna was silent but she nodded that she believed she’d have no problem getting through the race in fine shape.
This year marks the ninth run, according to Mike Kramp, executive director of the Central YMCA.
“We had right at 415 runners,” Kramp said. “We are up some runners from last year. Last year, it was about 20 degrees on race day, so the weather was a real blessing.”
If you were the running type determined to start off the New Year with health and fitness, it was perfect day for a run. The course wound through much of downtown, along the Arkansas River and back to the Y where the runners could receive awards and snacks. Proceeds from the run benefit the Greater Wichita YMCA’s Strong Kids program.
“The race is so exciting,” Kramp said. “It kicks off a new year and gets a lot of families out and running. A lot of people still have friends and family in town and they bring people in from out-of-town and out-of-state to run.”
The top three winners in the men’s division – all Wichitans – were Thomas O’Connell, Jacob Heil and Shawn Stafford.
In the women’s division, 25-year-old Wichitan Amanda Messenger came in first, followed by Stephanie Cundith, also of Wichita, and Olivia Eves of Arkansas City.
“I’m just starting to get back into running. I had a baby just four months ago,” Messenger said after the race. “The first two miles were just flat and fast but the last mile was into the wind and went up several inclines. I just wanted to be done and I pushed through and finished.”
Some ran for the sheer pleasure.
John Heimerman of Halstead watched his wife and two sons and a son’s girlfriend run the race.
“They’ve tried to run this race every year,” Heimerman said. “I guess for them it is the beginning of the New Year and they do it all together as a family. All of them enjoy running and they want me to get involved and I suppose I should … that one with the goofy stocking hat with the snowflake on it – that’s my youngest.”