Saturday afternoon, runners and trotters (many dressed as elves) lined up on North Main Street in front of Kennesaw First Baptist Church for the Faith Cline Elf Trot and Merry Mile.
The 5K race was held in honor and memory of Faith Cline, a local teen who died of a brain tumor in August.
Faith is remembered as an inspiration to her friends, family and community. She received a brain cancer diagnosis at the age of 15. Her doctor had only given her an 18 month prognosis, but, according to friends, she was determined to make the most of life, which helped her push on for much longer.
She graduated from Kennesaw Mountain High School weeks before her passing, completing one of many goals she set out to accomplish on her wish list.
"She really wanted to make a difference in the world," said Mary Moore, Executive Director of the Elf Trot. "She really touched everyone around her."
The first runner to reach the finish line was Jon Hagen with a time of 16:05. Tara Mooney won the women's division, clocking in at 19:49.
Like most who participated, Mooney had come out to support the cause. She did, however, have another reason for participating.
"I wanted to dress like an elf!" said Mooney.
"Maple syrup" was Paul Forward's reason for joining the race.
"I run it all for the maple syrup," the Kennesaw State University senior joked. Forward had a jug of maple syrup tied to his wrist, which he drank from upon completion of the race.
As the race came to a close, participants walked back toward First Baptist Church, where awards and fresh hot chocolate awaited them, a welcome reward for running in the cold rain.
Assisting with the race was Zulu Racing, an organization that specializes in mass running events. Mike Buckelew, co-founder of Zulu Racing, said there is a lot more to come.
"This is the kickoff event of a series that the city of Kennesaw is going to do," said Bukelew. "This is their flagship event. In 2011, there will be a series of seven races."
The other races will be held in the same area with similar courses. These include such events as the Swift-Cantrell Park Race and the Wounded Warrior Dash.
In addition to running awards, there was also a costume contest for the most festive racers. Paul Forward took home a stocking full of trinkets for his green get-up.
The executives of the event, Mary Moore and Cris Eaton-Welsh, closed out the evening by presenting a bouquet to Christina Cline, Faith's mother.
"What (Faith) wanted was to make a difference," Moore said. "And that's happening here today."
Proceeds of the race will go toward the Faith Cline Memorial Fund of the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children.