In very hot and muggy conditions, the Harry Gardner/Toledo 5-kilometer run/walk kicked off in downtown Toledo for the 21st year on July 3.
Temperatures reached a record high for the event, which began at 7 p.m. When the race started, the State Bank of Toledo thermometer said it was 101 degrees outside.
"This is definitely the hottest race here," said Dee Dee Nims said. "It might be hottest race I've ever ran."
Participants in the Harry Gardner/Toledo 5-kilometer run/walk start the race in downtown Toledo. There were 58 participants this year, which was down from previous years, but that was expected as temperatures reached 100 degrees when the race started. David Sevcik and Dee Dee Nims won the men's and women's divisions. Both are Tama-Toledo natives.
To help battle the heat, water stations were set up every half mile on the course. Some Toledo residents also sprayed their hoses to cool off runners as they came by their house.
South Tama County cross country coach and event organizer George Kuhter said the heat, among other things, was the primary reason for a slight decline in attendance this year.
"It was a hot night, but we usually have warm temperatures," Kuhter said. "There was a lot going on that night with the girls softball tournament and other things. So we probably lost 10 or 15 people that night. I was still happy with the turnout. When we started the race, it was 101."
This year's race had 58 participants, including many STC cross country team members and alumni. The overall winners this year were Nims, Robins, in the female division and David Sevcik of Cedar Falls in the male division. Nims ran the race in 23:12, while Sevcik ran a 16:15 for the 3.1 mile race, which he won by almost two minutes.
"He is a native Tama boy," Kuhter said of Sevcik. "There's a good chance he stayed to have dinner with the family."
Nims enjoyed the race. It's one she has been coming back to for many years.
"I moved away to the Cedar Rapids area, but I come back every year for this race," Nims said. "I actually knew Harry Gardner. When I was in high school, I used to be a waitress at Big T and he would come in and tell me I needed to do the 5K.
"This was his love," he said. "He ran all of the time and he started this. I was through college and then I decided to do it. I've been running it ever since."
In the Toledo 5K, this year's family races were held in conjunction with the overall races. Winners of the family races were: Mother/Son - Dee Dee and Kinnick Nims, Mother/Daughter - Theresa and Callie Lynch, Father/Daughter - Joe and Brenda Sevcik, and Father/Son - Joe and Jonathan Smith.
"He actually ran this when he was in my belly," Nims said of her son, who is now 7. "He was in the stroller when I ran and pushed him. Now, he's been doing 5Ks for a couple of years. He wanted a trophy so bad."
Awards were presented to the top three in each age division and top two places in the family races. Many of the 58 participants received a medal for the run.
"The purpose of the race is to raise money for the cross country team," Kuhter said. "We usually raise about $200-300 and we did that this year. It's a fun event. We had a lot of local kids. It was a lot of fun."
Next year's race again will be held on July 3, with proceeds benefiting the STC cross country program to be used for incidentals not covered in the athletic department budget. The race organizers would like to thank the volunteers and citizens of Toledo for the dedication during this year's run.