By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Skies were sunny and so were the spirits of the 156 participants in the 6th Annual Movin' for Community Outreach 5K Saturday morning in downtown Tarboro.
"It's wonderful and everybody has such a positive spirit," said Mary Ann Czaja, director of Tarboro Community Outreach, the non-profit organization that the 5K benefits. The outreach center operates a food pantry, soup kitchen and homeless shelter. Czaja cheered on the runners and walkers on the sidelines.
Vicky Bolivar, a member of Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church, the starting point for the 5K, has been running in the race since 2010.
"It's something fun for you and you give back to the community," Bolivar said.
"The community here in Tarboro is so homey and so cozy that you want to give back.. It's something in the air."
Last year, Bolivar ran the 5K in 33 minutes, 32 seconds. This year, she came in at 31:12.
"I beat my time," she said.
Michael Peters, 29, a Tarboro native, came in second place in the 5K, with a time of 18:58. He runs the race every year and said he thinks his time this year was his "best time" yet.
"It's a great community event," Peters said. "It's just a lot of fun to see everybody from around town here running, maybe people you don't see every day."
An out of towner, 56-year-old Pete Gibson, of Murfreesboro, won the race, with a time of 18:12.
The fastest female in the race was Pat Petruzziello, 48, of Tarboro, with a time of 22:39.
"I don't think I've missed a year," Petruzziello said. "It's a great course and it's a great cause and it's a good family event."
Petruzziello's husband Mark, 12-year-old son Joseph, and 10-year-old daughter, Porter, also ran the 5K.
The race was also a family affair for Adam and Katie Schultz and their 2-year-old son Conner. Katie ran in the 5K, while Conner participated in the kids' fun run around the block, just prior to the 5K.
"I think it brings the community together. It's good to see that everybody comes together to support the cause," said Adam.
Ewan Poyner, 6, was the winner of the one-quarter mile kids' fun run, sprinting to the finish line with a look of determination on his face.
"I liked it because it was fun," said Poyner. He came in third place in the fun run in 2011.
Older children competed against their peers in the 5K. Trey Lancaster, 12, had the fastest time in his age category (11-14-year-old boys), at 22:27. He runs cross country at Martin Middle School and does the Movin for Community Outreach 5K every year.
"It's a good cause and I love to run," said Lancaster. "Because I've run it so much, I already know the course. I try to start out a little fast. When I get to the third mile, I try to speed up."
While some start young, it's never too late to walk or run a 5K. For Christine Cherry, 63, of Rocky Mount, Saturday morning was her first experience walking a 5K.
"I'm glad I did it. I really enjoyed it," she said. Cherry called the atmosphere at the event "very energetic" and said she would love to do a 5K again.
The oldest walker in the race was 89-year-old Clarence Bauer of Tarboro, who crossed the finish line with the assistance of a member of the Tarboro Police Department and kept a smile on his face the whole time.