Christine Martine of Henrico was among the thousands who took part in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K on a drizzly Saturday that many runners said cooled them off. Martine has run this race every year since its inception, with Saturday marking her 20th.

She’s collected so many Monument Avenue 10K T-shirts that her mother cut out the logo from the first 10 years of shirts to make a quilt.

“It’s been really fascinating watching it grow,” Martine said. “The first year was like 3,000 runners.”

She originally signed up when a friend’s husband, whose company was a sponsor, pitched the new race.

“I just kept doing it,” she said. “I was a sprinter in high school and I thought I’d never run distance races.”

Martine ran her first half marathon eight years ago. She trains with friends, who mostly ran on their own Saturday.

“I was just amazed at the number of people that were out cheering us on given the weather conditions because when we started running it was raining,” she said. “Just to see all of the folks out on the course in spite of the weather conditions was awesome.”

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Ryan and George Thorne of Tarboro, N.C. ran their second Monument Avenue 10K.

Ryan Thorne first ran the 10K when she was a high school sophomore in Alexandria.

“This has been a nice two-and-a-half hour trip away, and we love the city of Richmond,” she said. “It was great even with the rain. Richmond turns out.”

They like supporting the VCU Massey Cancer Center as well as using the race to raise awareness of something personal.

Ryan Thorne has ulcerative colitis, a digestive disease that requires her to get a form of chemotherapy every six weeks.

“It’s an expensive treatment and I know that other people suffer from that as well, so we run to raise money for Crohn’s research and awareness,” she said. “The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation does a great job.”

Last year, the couple ran three 10Ks and a half marathon. This year they’ll run two half marathons, a marathon and two 10K’s.

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Vikas Goel of Glen Allen, a runner for more than 20 years, ran his second Monument Avenue 10K, training with a group from the India Association of Virginia.

His 7-year-old son, Rohin, ran in the kids run.

“It’s great fun. There’s a lot of energy,” Goel said, getting a photo after the race near Monroe Park.

“At the one-mile mark there was a big band playing. That was very energizing,” he said. “All the volunteers handing out water — there was no stretch where we were not encouraged by the bystanders.”

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Bridget Hiller and Brad Seymour of Chesterfield collected their third Monument Avenue 10K medal.

“Last year — we were talking about it during the race — that coming back you had the sun just beating down in your face,” Hiller said. “Today was super nice because it was overcast. And actually the rain felt kind of good with how humid it was.”

Seymour showed his support for Liverpool Football Club by wearing a team shirt, and spectators shouted “Go Liverpool” and sang with him while he ran.

On the route they saw a group of runners dressed like Wonder Woman and people in dinosaur costumes. Some spectators passed out cups of beer to runners; they passed.

***

Participants gathered at 7:30 a.m. before the race at The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for a blessing of the runners.

Afterward, runner Laura White of Chesterfield knelt and lit a votive candle in the sanctuary, saying she “prayed for family and friends who are going through some tough times right now.”

Her solemn focus came as she was about to run her 11th Monument Avenue 10K.

“For me it’s the start of spring,” she said. “This is always one of my favorites.”

The cathedral doubled as a staging area for runners to stretch and avoid the rain.

“I come to this for heavenly inspiration,” said Kurt Peerman of Chesterfield, his knees and ankles tightly wrapped before running his fourth Monument Avenue 10K. “I’m not a serious runner but I can use all the help I can get.”

Peerman said his mother died of cancer in 2010 after being treated at Massey Cancer Center, and other family members have had cancer, some of them dying as a result. Supporting the race is a way to help.

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Anjelica Prince-Chandler and Duron Chandler of Arlington, who are both from Richmond, have run numerous Monument Avenue 10Ks together.

“We always come back to run this race,” Prince-Chandler said. And Saturday was “my first race since having my daughter, so it was a good first race to hop back in.”

“This is home so we come back pretty often,” her husband said.

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“Let’s jog to Broad Street!” John McGurn of West End Presbyterian Church ordered his church group before the race.

Francisco Acosta, 15, about to run his fourth Monument Avenue 10K, helped lead the group in warm-ups once they got to Broad Street.

The church group trains together on Saturdays. They wore blue T-shirts that said “GOOD NEWS CAN’T LOSE.”

“This is pretty decent weather for running because it kind of cools you down, compared to last year, it was hot,” Acosta said. “And two years ago it started snowing.”

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One hundred eighty-five teenage volunteers working through the YMCA of Greater Richmond helped pass out water bottles, set up the medals, assist with the kids run and hold signs at the starting line.

Their program is called Leaders’ Club.

“They’re ages 13 to 18. It starts every fall, so at the Leaders’ Club they meet every week,” said Carol Butterworth, a director at the YMCA working with the teenagers. “We’re doing life skills, leadership skills, learning how to be a good servant leader, and it goes all school year long.”

***

Jared Peyton of Richmond carried a tuba on his shoulder during the 10K — his fifth year running the race.

He was in the VCU music program and is a former member of the pep band. The instrument was an old recording tuba with removable bell.

“I might play it for the last couple of blocks,” he said. “I run as much as I can.”

“I feel like if I can do something crazy or impossible like this, it makes the rest of my year very trivial in the problems aspect.”

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