The annual Bonfield Express 5K in Downers Grove saw a record turnout Thursday, as runners enjoyed unusually mild Thanksgiving weather.
The event, which has grown in each of its nine years, registered more than 6,000 people by Thursday morning, according to race officials. In 2011, nearly 5,100 people registered for the race.
"What better way to kick off Thanksgiving morning than running a 5K with 6,000 of your closest friends," Downers Grove Mayor Martin Tully said in a release. "It's the biggest morning block party you can find and it comes with health benefits."
The top male finishers Thursday were Pat Austin of Plattville, Todd Quednau of Chicago and Michael Lifson of Downers Grove. The top female finishers were Veronica Garcia of Downers Grove, Blossom Marimpietri of Downers Grove and Jessica Hopkins of Lisle.
The top three male and female race finishers were acknowledged and received gift certificates in the amount of $100, $50 or $25 to use at downtown Downers Grove establishments. Top finishers also received gift certificates from Road ID and from the Sohmar School of Holistic Massage and Therapy, officials said.
Race results for all participants have been posted on the Bonfield Express website at www.bonfieldexpress.com.
The Downers Grove-based Bonfield Foundation is a not-for-profit that aims to build character and community commitment in high school students. It was founded in memory of Downers Grove South teacher Jim Bonfield, who died in October 2003 after battling Hodgkin’s Disease, leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Since 2004, the foundation has awarded more than $185,000 in scholarships to 90 west suburban seniors in Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lisle and Westmont who reflect Bonfield's personal example of character, perseverance and love of community. Fourteen scholarships were awarded in 2012 alone.
Each year, the Bonfield Express 5K attracts thousands of runners and spectators to downtown Downers Grove, officials said.
Due to construction delays on key segments of the traditional course, this year's race route was modified to include a new segment through the scenic Randall Park and was reversed over a large part of the course.
Bonfield Express officials said runners and walkers offered "mostly favorable" feedback on the new course. Race director Will Kupisch said the foundation will "eagerly await input from participants about this year's course modification to help determine whether or not it will be maintained in future years."
Foundation officials said they are already looking forward to next year, which will mark the race's 10th anniversary in Downers Grove.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There are plenty of ways to keep up on Downers Grove news: