ELYRIA — Downtown streets will be full of runners and walkers this weekend for the 2019 Kerstetter 5K and Family Walk.
More than 600 runners are registered to take part in the annual event, which honors an Elyria police officer who died in the line of duty nine years ago.
Elyria police Sgt. Rick Buckway said as of Thursday afternoon, 622 people had registered, including about 100 walkers. Another 100 to 200 are expected to register the day of the race.
“The weather is in our favor right now; it’s supposed to be beautiful,” he said.
Day-of registration ($20) starts at 7 a.m. and closes at 8 a.m., Buckway said. “That way we can give the entire list to our timing people so they can set everything up.”
There is no cost for the Family Walk portion of the event, but donations will be accepted.
Runners who registered before June 30 will receive a T-shirt. All runners who participate this year will receive a commemorative challenge coin with the Kerstetter 5K badge logo on one side and “10th annual” on the other, Buckway said.
There are multiple age divisions divided by gender from 9 and younger to 65 and older. There will be awards for the top three overall male and female runners and the top three male and female runners in each age division.
Safety is a top priority for Elyria police during the race, especially after a motorist went around a barricade and struck and injured a city worker during last year’s race, Buckway said.
With the exception of emergency vehicles, the entire route will be closed to traffic at 7:30 a.m. for the 8 a.m. start. The slowest runners typically finish the course within an hour, which will leave the route open again by about 9 a.m., Buckway said.
Kerstetter Way itself will be closed starting at 6:30 a.m. Saturday between West Avenue and Broad Street. Merchants Alley also will be closed between Washington Avenue and Kerstetter Way.
Starting at 7:45 a.m., Broad Street between Court Street and East Avenue; Middle Avenue between Broad Street and Second Street; Washington Avenue between Broad Street and Harrison Street; Depot Street between Washington Avenue and East Avenue; Harrison Street between Washington Avenue and Glenwood Avenue; and Glenwood Avenue between Harrison Avenue and Washington Avenue all will be closed.
Walkers will begin a 1-mile walk from Kerstetter Way, down Washington Avenue and back at 8 a.m. The 5K course proceeds from Kerstetter Way south, east onto Broad Street, left onto Washington Avenue, right onto Harrison Street, left onto Glenwood Avenue, right on Washington Avenue to Elywood Drive, reverses and heads back to the Elyria police station.
Any questions may be directed to Elyria police at (440) 323-1144.
It is the 10th race to carry Kerstetter’s name. The 15-year veteran Elyria officer was shot and killed after responding to a call on March 15, 2010, at a house on 18th Street where a man was reported to have exposed himself to a child.
Kerstetter entered the man’s house and was shot multiple times. Other officers shot and killed the gunman, and Kerstetter was pronounced dead at a hospital.
He was posthumously promoted to sergeant and the street between Broad Street and West Avenue that runs alongside the Elyria police station was renamed in his honor.
Colleagues said Kerstetter was a fitness buff who took on so many extra shifts he earned the nickname “Sponge.” The race course approximates the route he would take on his frequent runs.
Prior to joining the Elyria Police Department in 1994, Kerstetter worked as a corrections officer and deputy with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.
Buckway said Kerstetter was one of the officers who mentored him on the job, and partnered up with him once his field training was over.
“Jimmy was one of them,” he said. “We made a promise to his daughters that we will keep his memory alive, and we are passing that along as the department gets younger.”