GOSHEN — Near the back of the pack Sunday in the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade 5,000 Road Run were a group of law enforcement personnel and their wives.
The group was dressed in full gear while running in the non-forgiving heat.
Pounds were shed by the Indiana Conservation officers and an Elkhart County Sheriff Deputy.
But it was wealth worth it for those men and women to compete in the difficult conditions.
A message was being sent to the community.
"This will be our fourth year completing the 5K here at the fair," said 33-year old conservation officer Matt Maher. "It started a few years ago behind a combined effort between us and some of the local law enforcement agencies. It really just took off and we got the support from our chain of command and our division to come out and do this.
"We want to spend the time giving our community a positive image of law enforcement and showing them we've got just as much heart as anybody out here. We also want to show our strength in numbers. Hopefully, we can get the community surrounding our law enforcement officers because we need it now.
"It's our mission and our goal to raise awareness for what we do and for what all law enforcement does. That's why we're out here today in this heat."
Maher was asked how everyone coped with the heat.
"Mental toughness," he said. "We like to think we're the toughest law enforcement agency out there. We enjoy pushing ourselves to the limits, whether it's in the gym training together or doing our routine training patrol shifts. Every day we like to challenge one another to continue to get better."
The race featured men and women from all age groups, with some being veterans of the race, with varying degrees of success.
Middlebury's Andy Williams, who's a Northridge High School graduate, was the overall winner with a time of 16:07.11. Williams won the race nine years ago.
During his junior year of high school, Williams was part of Northridge's cross country state championship team.
"You have to have realistic expectations," said the 31-year old Williams about the fair race. "Even if you're in really good shape you're not going to run as fast on a day like this as you would when it's 55 degrees out. I kind of anticipated a day like this. The last few weeks I've been doing a lot of running in the heat to get prepared for this. It worked out fairly well for me today. I was still hoping to go sub-16. I was happy to come back and get another win."
Williams gave an interesting answer when asked about his opinion of the course.
"It's absolutely a love-hate relationship," he said. "I absolutely love it because it's a spectator's course and all kinds of people come out and watch the parade. It's a long course and I hear my name a lot. It's kind of like a hometown race in that respect. I love the spectator atmosphere of finishing in front of the grandstand, even though coming on to the dirt here is a little more of a challenge and the push off isn't quite as good. That, combined with the 1:20 start time, it's always going to be brutal."
One of the oldest runners was 63-year old Mark Furkis, who finished 17th overall with a time of 19:45.34.
The West Noble High School graduate, who has won the race three times, currently lives in Goshen.
"I love the heat and the parade and the crowd really helps move you along," said Furkis on why he enjoys competing in the race. "There's a lot of good fellowship, knowing a lot of runners from the area over the years."
Furkis wasn't happy with how he ran on Sunday.
"I was a little slow," he said. "The heat and the humidity might have affected me a little more today."
Furkis says he runs in 30 to 40 races during the year. Most of those events are 5K's or less.
"Personally, I enjoy it," Furkis said about running. "My parents both died young from heart attacks, so that gives me motivation to keep going and have a healthy lifestyle."
Aimee Gingerich, who was an All-State cross country runner and a state champion and a runner-up on a 3,200-meter relay team in track at Northridge High School, finished second Sunday in her 30-34 year old female age group with a time of 27:15.27.
"I finished so that's good," said Gingerich, who lives in Goshen.
The 30-year old Gingerich last ran at the fair during her senior year of high school.
"I used to be a runner and I'm trying to get back into it," Gingerich said. "I'm a middle school cross country coach (at Northridge) and I usually use that season to train. This year I figured that I'd start to train in the summer so I can run with the kids more. I have some work to do still, but it's a good monitor to see where I'm at."
"With this course you have the crowds lining the streets which is awesome. You get that constant motivation which is probably the best part. Also, it's awesome running with people in Elkhart County that are familiar faces."
Andy Williams (Middlebury) 16:07.11, Kevin Kipkemboi (Goshen) 16:30.33, Landon Miller (Milford) 16:34.07, Jordan Annis (Wakarusa) 16:50.75, Victor Kiprotich (Goshen) 17:10.69, Salvador Escamilla (Elkhart) 17:11.43, Jason Barahona (Goshen) 17:12.03, Luke Shoemaker (Elkhart) 17:14.00, Dan Kibett (no town given) 17:53.70, Marlon Garcia (Goshen) 18:05.53.
Age group leaders
12-under: Marc Anthony Hernandez (Elkhart) 22:14.11, Roman Nyce (Goshen) 24:53.16.
13-15: Tommy Claxton (Goshen) 18:54.22, Cole Johnston (Goshen) 20:13.23.
16-18: Luke Shoemaker (Elkhart) 17:14.00, Marlon Garcia (Goshen) 18:05.53.
19-24: Kevin Kipkemboi (Goshen) 16:30.33, Landon Miller (Milford) 16:34.07.
25-29: Dan Kibett (no town given) 17:53.70, Jose Rangel (Goshen) 21:39.14.
30-34: Elmer Schlabach (Goshen) 18:30.60, Drew Brewton (Syracuse) 20:09.25.
35-39: FG Garcia (Goshen) 18:29.27, Rustin Nyce (Goshen) 19:38.30.
40-44: Hermilo Garcia (Warsaw) 20:06.85, Jerry Brown (Goshen) 22:20.60.
45-49: Galen Mast (Goshen) 23:25.70, Shane Hernley (Goshen) 23:42.24.
50-54: Jeff Dunithan (Larwill) 23:08.66, Doug Brown (Goshen) 26:31.04.
55-59: Thomas Smith (Goshen) 22:51.57, Todd Rothi (Bristol) 24:08.99.
60-older: Mark Furkis (Goshen) 19:45.34, Ivor Niggebrugge (Mishawaka) 23:07.74.
Laura Gillette (Goshen) 20:22.92, Dorcas Wingard (Topeka) 20:36.33, Bekah Shenk (Elkhart) 21:00.72, Haylee Hile (Goshen) 22:09.92, Regan Landis (Elkhart) 22:42.91, Yadira Sanchez (Goshen) 23:57.87, Ariana Perez-Diener (Goshen) 24:13.51, Sophia Yordy (Goshen) 24:17.37, Alyssa Adam (Millersburg) 24:31.91, Abigail Garcia (Goshen) 25:17.51,
12-under: Hadley Troyer (Middlebury) 27:29.27, Kiara Jaberg (Millersburg) 39:20.78.
13-15: Haylee Hile (Goshen) 22:09.92, Sophia Yordy (Goshen) 24:17.37.
16-18: Regan Landis (Elkhart) 22:42.91, Yadira Sanchez (Goshen) 23:57.87.
19-24: Dorcas Wingard (Topeka) 20:36.33, Ariana Perez-Diener (Goshen) 24:13.51.
25-29: Alyssa Adam (Millersburg) 24:31.91, Carrie Harris (Goshen) 26:07.61.
30-34: Bekah Shenk (Elkhart) 21:00.72, Aimee Gingerich (Goshen) 27:15.27.
35-39: Sandra Ochoa (Goshen) 32:46.22, Lita Sarmiento (Larwill) 33:35.53.
40-44: Robin Weddell (Goshen) 29:53.61, Elvia Abad (Elkhart) 30:03.78.
45-49: Anne Griffith (Goshen) 30:32.22, Maria Brown (Goshen) 34:02.42.
50-54: Yuko Baumann (Goshen) 27:31.50, Dani Moreno (Middlebury) 30:20.18.
55-59: Pam Rothi (Bristol) 30:09.24, Brenda Toews (Goshen) 36:07.16.
60-older: Sara Lantzer (Goshen) 40:11.88.