CHICO -- Blue skies and moderate temperatures welcomed a record crowd at the 8th annual Run for Food on Thanksgiving. According to organizers, 5,019 people registered for the five-kilometer run and walk through Bidwell Park's One-Mile Recreation Area. That figure is about 5.7 percent of the city's population, although many participants came from neighboring communities and more distant locales.
As in previous years, the first runners crossed the finish line at Sycamore Field just after the last large group of participants moved past the nearby starting line, just south of Caper Acres.
The top male finisher was Ryan Matz, of Chico, with a time of 16 minutes, 5.7 seconds. The top female finisher was Liz Camy, of Chico, at 17 minutes, 13.5 seconds.
Bill Such, executive director of the Jesus Center, said his thinking of the event has changed over the years. While the event continues to benefit the Jesus Center to provide meals to those in need, he said the Run for Food belongs to Chico.
"It's really a community event now," Such said.
He said the event also becomes a part of family memories, as people dress up, take photos and enjoy the event.
"I'm just so pleased we could be a part of that," Such said.
Fred Corona and daughter Hailey, 11, were warming up before the start. The Durham residents said the event is for a great cause.
"It's a nice feeling to help people who don't have what you have," Hailey said.
"It's an awesome feeling to give back and help out," Fred Corona said.
Nearby, Jodi Stringer, of Chico, held two cartoon turkey caps and four visors with turkey designs. She said when her family, including two daughters and a stepdaughter, began participating four years ago, they decided to wear crazy hats and socks.
Many people, like the Stringers, wore holiday garb, but the vast majority of participants wore dark gray shirts bearing this year's logo.