Christine Cassaro/The Collegian Partcipants were greeted by bands on nearly every corner and mile showing their progress.

A number of Richmond students participated and cheered at Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10-kilometer race presented by MARTIN’s last Saturday morning.

Sports Backers organized the race, which is now the fourth largest race in the nation, according to Running USA.

Jackie Holt, public relations and communications assistant for Sports Backers, said that there had been 41,314 registrants in the race and 1,900 in the Kids Run.

“With the excitement of the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams being in the Final Four, Sports Backers encouraged all participants to wear black and gold in support of the Rams,” Holt said. “We decided to call this effort a ‘Rampede.’”

Sports Backers has been organizing the race from the beginning and has had a lot of success getting college students involved, Holt said. Students get involved in as many different ways as possible; some students run and walk and many others volunteer, she said.

“We’re lucky that this event appeals to so many people in the community and that UR students like participating,” Holt said.

Junior Kathryn Esty said she had never been a runner in high school, but when she came to college she wanted to push herself to achieve goals. Esty said she first heard about the race through her friend’s Facebook status.

Students trained in a variety ways for the events, including weight lifting, running, walking and swimming.

“In preparation for the race, I ran 10 to 12 miles on the treadmill per week,” Esty said. “I built up to it slowly.”

Esty said training for the event had inspired her to train for bigger and better things. Esty said she had anticipated running the race between 61 and 65 minutes, but she had finished in 53 minutes.

“The training is amazing in how far you can push yourself and achieve something,” Esty said. “I would never have imagined being able to run this far.”

The support had been amazing and inspirational, Esty said. In addition to the runners, walkers and people cheering, there were 10 to 15 bands, she said.

“I was racing myself in my mind, but having other people around me was really inspiring because we were working for the same goal and crossed the finish line together,” Esty said.

Junior Chelsea Weinberg said that the event had been particularly special to her because her mom had decided to take a train down from New York and run the race with her. Weinberg said she ran the race in 1 hour, 7 minutes, 50 seconds and crossed the finish line at the same time as her mom.

“Over winter break I decided that I needed a goal to get me running, so I signed up,” Weinberg said. “My mom first signed up for moral support and then she got into training and came down. We now want to make it an annual event.”

Sarah Fishman, co-captain of the Sprinting Spiders running team, said that she had chosen to run the race a second year in a row because had been a lot of fun and a great way to bring the Richmond community together. There are bands on almost every corner of Monument Avenue and a lot of people come to cheer on participants, she said.

The most challenging part about the race is being able to maneuver between people, Fishman said.

“To get ready for the run, I woke up before class every morning to run four to six miles,” Fishman said. “My goal was to beat my time from last year, which was 52 minutes, 30 seconds.”

Eating healthy, drinking a lot of water and stretching are all very important preparations before a race, Fishman said.

Senior Darius Naficy said he had been training for two months in preparation for the race.

“Finishing the race felt great,” senior Chris Cosgrove said. “I was in Wave PD and finished in 60 minutes.”

Junior Alexa Gruber said she ran for the World Pediatric Project, a local non-government organization affiliated with a few hospitals in the Richmond area. Gruber said she had raised more than $300 for them through individual donations and ran the race in 1 hour, 5 minutes.

“Every year before the race they have a costume competition,” Gruber said. “There were groups of people wearing tutus, piñatas, and even dressed as Fred and Wilma Flinstone. My friends and I have decided to dress up next year as super heroes. The costumes boosted my energy and helped me keep running.”

Senior MaryGrace Apostoli said that she and five of her friends decided to run the race because they had heard it was a popular event in the UR community.

“I have been training and preparing since winter break,” Apostoli said. “I do three long runs every week, spin once to twice a week and lift weights once a week.”

Apostoli said she was most excited about getting out there and finishing the race.

“A lot of my friends live on Monument Avenue, so they are going to cheer for us and then have a party for us,” Apostoli said.

The UR gym encourages students to participate, Apostoli said. Most of the full-time staff at the gym has run the race before and says nice things about it, she said.

“UR students enjoy participating,” Holt said. “What happens most often is that friends jump on the bandwagon and the race becomes a social event rather than an individual competing in the race.”

It was not just a race, but also a festival and a celebration, Fishman said.

Contact staff writer Rachael Specter at rachael.specter@richmond.edu