The sound of the gun that preceded the Elgin Valley Fox Trot was more than just a signal to run or walk.
It also served to usher in the unofficial start of summer in Elgin.
The 37th annual event attracted 2,224 runners and walkers willing to test their physical limits with 10-mile and 5K runs, or to go on a charity 2-mile stroll.
The Fox Trot takes place Memorial Day weekend and for years, it was held on the holiday itself. Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain moved it to the Saturday before Memorial Day a few years ago so it wouldn't conflict with events that honor fallen soldiers.
"We kept the traditional day more solemn," Kaptain said. "It ended up working out."
As runners and walkers made their way through 5K, 10-mile and 2-mile courses, people cheered them on to victory from their houses, the streets, the sidewalks and beyond the sidelines.
Three generations of Hannah Rangel's Elgin-based family lined up to support the teen as she ran her first 5K.
"It was interesting; it was exhausting," Rangel, 14, said of the hilly course that she completed in about a half-hour.
Her performance has also galvanized her grandmother Carlene Montrose, her mother Kim Root and her mother's boyfriend, Scott Hatfield, to either walk or run in next year's Fox Trot.
"She inspired us all; definitely she's a very special young lady," said Hatfield, who ran cross country his final two years in high school.
Returning to the 5K run after a six-year hiatus was Andrew Nelson, a 23-year-old Geneva resident who ran with the Elgin Sharks Track Club as a child.
With a time of 15 minutes and 40 seconds in the 5K, Nelson was the overall winner in the men's category, and crossed the finish line wearing a blue and gold Sharks uniform.
"This is fun. I just love to compete," Nelson said. "Elgin puts on a great event and I'm so happy to be back here."
Meanwhile, an eighth grader from South Elgin outpaced the ladies and scored the women's overall 5K award.
Audrey Ernst, 14, attends Haines Middle School in St. Charles and has been running since she was in sixth grade. She finished her run in 18 minutes and 49 seconds.
"It was so cool; it was really incredible," she said of her overall win. "It was really competitive."
Money raised from the walk will support 26 local nonprofit groups, said Barb Kesilica, the city's special events and community engagement manager. The top three finishers in both races won cash prizes.
Results are posted at www.cityofelgin.org.