Crowds of people covered the Riverside Military Academy campus on Thursday afternoon as live music wafted through the air.
Hundreds of healthy minded folks of all ages turned out for second annual Get Fit Stay Fit 5K Corporate Challenge Run/Walk, held by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. Most were on corporate teams.
Most participants were out for fun, but some runners, like John DePalma of the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club team, had a goal in mind. He said he was trying to set a good time in the 5K run and best some of the kids on the LCKC team because "they’re pretty fast."
"I did it last year, and it was really just a fun community event," he said before taking off for the run.
Ari Mathe, a Hall County assistant public defender, said a senior attorney in her office organized a team of five this year. Mathe, who is used to running half marathons, was looking forward to the run.
"It’s a small distance, but a great event and it supports the community," she said. "We’re excited to have a good time."
More than 1,200 people had signed up ahead of the event and more were calling Thursday afternoon to sign up, according to Kit Dunlap, chamber president and CEO. Another organizer said 468 people signed up to be runners, but only about 200-300 showed up for the start.
Dunlap said she was "extremely pleased" with the turnout for this year’s event, though she didn’t have final numbers on participation.
State Sen. Lee Hawkins, a Gainesville dentist, was on hand for the event as the honorary chairman.
"I think it’s great to see all these folks like this. This is what makes a community, events like this," he said.
And after they finished the course, runners and walkers treated to "Hall County’s Largest Office Party," with awards presentations, food and live music from, appropriately enough, a band called Riverside.
Last year’s event drew 90 teams, mostly from local employers, and total participation was more than 1,500 people.