NORTH ANDOVER — The Knights on the Run 5-kilometer road race produced several winners Saturday morning.
The overall victor, Jefferson Welch of Haverhill, mastered the often-hilly course in 16 minutes, 16 seconds. Welch, 26, was fresh from his conquest of the 5-mile Bobby Bell Race in his hometown Oct. 13.
Top finisher among the women was Caitlin Kasala-Hall, 24, who crossed the finish line at a very impressive 19:14.
One of the biggest winners of the balmy day was the North Andover Athletic Association, for which the race raised several thousand dollars. Alexandra Coakley, race director, said her goal was to enroll 300 runners.
The third annual Knights on the Run, publicized by dozens of signs throughout the town, drew an estimated 320 runners and walkers. When it was over, 304 had crossed the finish line, according to Coakley.
“We exceeded all our expectations,” she said. “The weather had a lot to do with it. It was a great day.”
It was sunny and the temperature was somewhere in the 60s – not too hot, not too chilly – ideal conditions for most runners.
Coakley noted that 114 high-school students competed. Members of the cross country teams were barred from competing in the race by Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, but they helped out at the water station on Great Pond Road and shouted out mile times to runners.
Members of the high school’s football, field hockey, soccer, golf, ice hockey, wrestling and swimming and diving teams were allowed to run and many did, including several Scarlet Knights who had defeated Methuen High 27-26 on the gridiron the night before.
“It makes me proud,” Coakley said of the turnout for the race.
The North Andover Athletic Association supports the North Andover High sports program by paying for items not covered by the school budget, including the Scarlet Knight windscreen banners at Walsh Stadium.