Early Saturday morning the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank welcomed nearly 750 race participants to its ninth annual Selfless Elf 5k. Excited to take part in this year’s race in person, some participants were dressed as Santa’s helpers, others as beloved holiday characters; everyone celebrating the spirit of the holiday season.

Because of the community’s support, the race will help the Foodbank distribute the equivalent of thousands of meals to its network of 580 pantries, hot meal sites, shelters, children and senior programs within its eight-county service area. These programs will then distribute the food directly to people in need.

Pete Fickert, 80, of Akron has participated in the race all nine years. “I started running the race because I enjoy running and like the competition.” But this race has a more personal meaning for Fickert. As a child he was evacuated from Croatia because of war. He remembers waiting for the Red Cross to bring powdered milk and cheese to the refugee camp where his family was located. “I know what it means to be hungry; that’s why I support the Foodbank,” he says.

Race participants wore the iconic striped elf socks proudly atop their costumes and running gear. Some have all nine variations from the previous races and are curious as to what next year’s socks will look like to celebrate the 10th anniversary.

The rainy weather didn’t deter the dedicated elves dashing through downtown Akron on the 3.1-mile course beginning and ending at the Foodbank’s Main Campus. Runners and walkers of all ages enjoyed carolers along the race route and photos with friends and family at the decorated photo booth area.

“We’re so grateful for the many families and friends with us here today. Last year, though we had faithful Foodbank supporters run the race virtually, the spirit of the event and of this special time of year couldn’t be felt through social media,” said Dan Flowers, president and CEO of the Foodbank. “It feels great to gather with friends dedicated to the mission of the Foodbank once again. It’s because of their support of our hunger-relief efforts that we can help families find joy over a special meal this holiday season.”

Overall top female runner was Macy McAdams, 22, of Medina. Overall top male runner was Aaron Dutt, 18, of Cuyahoga Falls. The VIP Elf raising $1,125, helping provide the equivalent of 4,500 meals, was Robert Mcintyre of Akron.

For more information on runner and walker winners in each age category, visit selflesself.com. 

A special thank you to title sponsors NJM Insurance Group and Shearer’s Snacks for their support of the event.

Race Results Race Photos Photo Booth Photos