As runner Toni Suarez of Elgin neared the finish line, "The Hustle" -- the disco song by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony -- blared over the speakers at theninth annual Harvest Hustle 7K Run and 2-Mile Walk in South Elgin on Saturday.
The South Elgin Parks & Recreation FUNdation and the village of South Elgin hosted the event, which had 174 runners and 120 walkers participate. Suarez, who has participated in the event for five years, took first place with a time of 27:00.7.
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The first female runner, Julie Lee of South Elgin, crossed the finish line at 33:28.4.
Suarez is a professional marathoner in the Philippines and has been a runner for more than 30 years. He enjoys participating in the event "because it's happy -- a lot of people just clapping and enjoying, having a good time."
The event, which began and finished at the city's Municipal Annex on State Street, offered a challenging but scenic 7K course throughout the village. Walkers got to enjoy the scenery along the picturesque Fox River Trail.
Dan and Samantha Henderson of Elgin have been participating in the walk, bringing their daughter, Camille, 4, for the past three years.
"I think the first year that we did it, we did it because we just thought it would be something fun we could do ... and then it just became a family tradition," Samantha Henderson said. "Everyone's so friendly; the man that emcees the thing (local business owner Bob Kearns) makes us laugh all the time, and they have trail mix that you make yourself," she added with a giggle. "Everything about it just makes us to want to keep coming back here."
Mary Rohr, event chairwoman, said, "This event gives us the opportunity to promote healthy activities for our residents, while raising money to support our Youth Scholarship Fund and the SEBA Park playground project for children with all abilities and disabilities."
South Elgin's Annual Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival at County Park, including the Community Garage Sale and Pumpkin Plunge, followed the run/walk. Children and families swarmed the pumpkin patch, picking out their favorite pumpkins.
The Rios family of South Elgin picked out eight pumpkins, filling their wagon to the max. After loading them on their truck, they headed back to the festival. As emcee Bob Kearns had said earlier, "It doesn't get any better than this."