Runners and walkers participate in the Jackrabbit Run 4 Hope on Saturday morning in Copperas Cove.

More than 400 runners and walkers took to the Copperas Cove streets Saturday and experienced the “big hill” during the 10th annual Jackrabbit Run 4 Hope at Olgetree Gap Park.

The event raised funds for Hope Pregnancy Center.

“One thing about this race to keep in mind: Never give up. Especially on that hill,” said Xavier Brandon, 5k winner of the 16-18 male age group.

Three distances made up the Jackrabbit Run 4 Hope: a 10k and 5k run/walk.

“Its amazing to see the growth of the race over the years,” said Ben Davis, co-lead organizer for the JackRabbit Run. “Our very first race we barely had anyone come, yet now we’ve been having big numbers in registers and attendance.”

Registration was open to all groups and single runners ages 8 to 75.

One group in attendance was Team Red, White and Blue, a group of 15 veterans from Central Texas who participated in the 10k and 5k runs.

“We really enjoyed ourselves here today and are very honored to help out such a wonderful charity. It’s a good feeling for the body and the soul,” said Lisiate Akau of Killeen, who ran the 10k in 48:30.

Runners gathered at the pavilion at the end of the race to receive medals for top performers.

After presenting the awards, Hope Pregnancy Center Executive Director Karen Wistrad addressed the crowd, saying the growth of the race was amazing.

“Not only do we need to thank the organizers, but most of all, all of you runners and sponsors,” she said. “We could have not done this without you - not 10 years ago and not now.”

Best friends Theressa Mingo and Kimberly Pryor were happy they decided to do the 5k walk.

“I’m glad I came out of the house to do this. Especially for something of a good cause,” Mingo said.

Pryor agreed.

“Not to mention, while also starting on a journey to get healthy,” she said.

Monique Brand - Herald correspondent​

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