AYER -- The eighth annual Thanksgiving Day 5K went off Thursday morning without a hitch. Race organizers celebrated the registration of many new runners this year.
"We got about 100 more runners," said co-organizer and Ayer Fire Dept. Lt. Rick Ressijac. "We had 856 registered. The race continues to grow. It's a great day."
The weather was perfect for the run, and West Main Street was packed for the start. Ladder trucks from the Ayer and Shirley Fire Departments formed an archway above the start line for the race launch.
The ladder trucks hoisted high an American flag and two huge pink ribbons, signifying the race cause this year: breast-cancer awareness.
"Last year we shared proceeds to thank those who have served in the armed forces," said Fire Lt. Jeremy Januskiewicz. "This year we picked the Emerson Hospital Cancer Center because that's where a few of our members and spouses have received treatment."
The first 500 registered runners received special race T-shirts adorned with a pink ribbon and this year's race medals were strung on pink satin ribbons. The race is hosted by Ayer Combination Company No. 1.
The course record is held by 2010 winner David Breen, who completed the 5-kilometer (3.2-mile) race in 15 minutes, 39 seconds. Nonetheless, this year's male winner was Mark Mayall, 41 of Maynard, who clocked an impressive 16-minute, 29-second race time.
"It's an interesting course with a lot of turns," said Mayall, who also ran the race last year. "It keeps you on your toes.
The race begins at the Ayer Fire Station at 1 West Main St., head east to East Main Street before hooking right before the Carlton Circle rotary. "You weave and jog through the neighborhoods on the east end," said Ayer Fire Capt. Tim Johnston.
Runners "head back over the East Main Street bridge, head down Mill Street through Moore's (Lumber), up by St. Mary's Church, and back onto West Main before ending just where you started," said Johnston
Perennial race sponsors North Middlesex Savings Bank provided a $3,000 donation towards the event. "We've sponsored the race since its inception," said North Middlesex Savings Bank President and CEO William Marshall.
"The bank's been on since the get-go," said Johnston. "They've been our main supporter."
Combination Company No. 1 is the nonprofit representative of all Ayer Fire Department employees, including its EMTs and full-time and call firefighters. Donations can be sent to: Combination Company No. 1, Ayer Fire Department, 1 West Main St., Ayer, MA 01432.
The overall male winner was Mark Mayall (16:29). The overall female winner was Erin Crawford of Townsend (19:02). The overall male firefighter/EMS winner was Gary Dunner of Leominster (22:13), and the overall female firefighter/EMS winner was Terri Pallis of Pepperell (26:19).
The top male age 10 and under was Jordan Bell of Kents Hill, Maine. The top male age 11-15 was Jarryd Wick of Ayer. The top male age 16-19 was Ellis Toll of Harvard. The top male age 20-29 was Justin Spring of Allston.
The top male age 30-39 was Chris Volante of Groton. The top male age 40-49 was Scott Loomis of Colchester, Vt. The top male age 50-59 was Jim Maloy of Groton.
The top male age 60-69 was Paul Funch of Groton. The top male aged 70 and over was Allen Hoffman of Sterling.
For women, the top female age 10 and under was Karoline Hartner of Pepperell. The top female age 11-15 was Ryleigh Levansailor of Ayer. The top female age 16-19 was Meagan Landry of Lunenburg.
The top female age 20-29 was Erin Megan of Brighton. The top female age 30-39 was Christina Jordy of Glenville, N.Y. The top female age 40-49 was Karen Odell of Groton.
The top female age 50-59 was Cindy Gionet of Shirley. The top female age 60-69 was Cynthia Ober-Ressijac of Ayer. All results can be found at www.coolrunning.com.