By JIM MEENAN - Follow me @jrmeenan
South Bend Tribune
7:36 PM EST, November 22, 2012
NILES –– It was not exactly your typical Niles-Buchanan YMCA Thanksgiving Day Run, Torrie Eger, of Buchanan, could tell by the large turnout Thursday.
Sure songs like “The Eye of the Tiger,” “Jump” and appropriately “YMCA” were played over the loudspeaker as the runners got ready to run the last race of the day, the 5K, Thursday morning.
And as usual, many families ran and walked together while burning off calories ahead of their Thanksgiving Day feast.
But Eger could easily tell the 2,444 participants what most already knew –– amid sunny, 50 degree temps –– the day’s weather alone was something to be thankful for.
“I’ve been here before when it was snowing,” said the 21-year-old Eger, who’s been running the race since she was 12 and was the third fastest women’s finisher Thursday in the 5K with a time of 20:18. “So it’s really nice.”
What also was really nice at the 31st annual race were the exercise, community spirit and the cause that this race helps.
Proceeds from the race go to fund scholarships for the underprivileged at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA.
“This is our really big fund-raiser for that,” said Denise Peters, the race director.
For many, the day was about family.
Liz Mach and her husband, Newly Mach from South Bend, joined cousin Jim Hargrove, of Chicago, and Liz’s parents, Karen and Rick McCoy, of Granger, in the 5K, with several promising to power walk it.
“It’s just really great getting out,” Liz said before the race. “The weather’s nice this year. We lucked out.”
“It’s a chance to get out and stretch your legs a little bit,” said Newly Mach. Getting up for the race early has many benefits, he said, including making sure a person does not have too much fun the night before.
“Here, by the time you are done and go back and take a shower, it’s 11 in the morning and you still have half a day left,” he added. “You feel better about eating that extra piece of pie.”
Larry Groth ran the 10K with his daughter, Lindsey Roache. His other daughter and son-in-law were also running the 5K.
“It was very hilly,” Roache said of the 10K. “I feel OK now that I am done. I definitely enjoyed it.”
Penny, Larry’s wife and Lindsey’s mother, was on hand to offer support and take pictures.
“It makes you proud, knowing that they are doing their best and are getting ready to eat a lot of food,” she said. “It’s a good time.”
Could a family have had more fun than the Radivojevic clan of South Bend?
Amber Radivojevic ran the 10K while her husband Vladimir and sons Nicholas, Alex and Ben ran the 1-mile fun run.
Alex, age 9, even came in with an 8:11 mile. Not bad.
“It was a fun time going around it,” he said of the course, held a few blocks away from the main races.
“It was fun to get out and it was the first race we did together,” Vladimir said.
For Peters, who also is the wellness and fitness director at the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, it was a great day on many fronts, including having a record turnout for the second straight year.
“We had a lot of youth running with their parents,” she said. “So it was a really great day.
“It was just moving to me. I am a health educator. So just to see all those people come out on a day to be thankful and to participate in physical activity before they go home and are feasting,” was great to see, she said.
The community aspect of the race was not lost on the speedy Eger, either.
“It’s really exciting because I feel like we are all coming together as a community and doing something,” she said.
Staff writer Jim Meenan:
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