Before the briskets, burgers and bang of fireworks that will ring out on July 4, the Wabash Valley Road Runners Club hosted the 37th running of The Mile race in Terre Haute bright and early with the finish line at Memorial Stadium. 

Nearly 450 participants flooded the grounds, marking what looked like another successful year according to Race Director Dave Williams.

“This is a family tradition that has been going on for 37 years now,” Williams said. “There are families with multiple generations running and it is really special to see such a great turnout from in and around Terre Haute again this year.”

The race consisted of several different heats, dividing the women into two groups of age 11-39 and 40 or older while splitting the men into the same categories. Middle school aged children had a separate category as well while the final flight of the morning was children 10 years old or younger.

The men’s category was dominated by Bobby Thompson, who finished with a first-place time of 4:28. The race marked the fourth consecutive appearance in the event for Thompson, who has claimed first place in each of those competitions.

“It’s a tactical race and a lot of fun to come out and run in,” Thompson said. “This is the best tradition that I have on the Fourth of July for sure.”

The women’s overall champion was Cassie Busch, who finished with a time of 5:21. Busch, who has competed in the Independence Day run seven times, wrapped up yesterday’s race with her sixth win and a big smile.

“I love coming back here to run in this when I can and the venue that they have set up here is amazing,” Busch said. “With so many people coming out to run it, this is just a lot of fun.”

Of the Master’s Division, Danny DuBois won the men’s category with a time of 5:08. Kelley Miller won the women’s category with a time of 5:56.

Miller, who won the Master’s Division last year, enjoyed getting to spend the Fourth of July racing with her son.

The Grandmaster’s Division was led by John Johnson in the men’s category with a time of 5:39 and Kristy Lippencott in the women’s category with a time of 6:20.

The Senior Grandmaster’s men’s division title was captured by Patrick Dunigan with a time of 6:03. Carla Eller won the women’s category with a time of 8:19.

Justin Strole capped the middle school division of the race, finishing with a time of 6:05. The soon-to-be eighth grader at Otter Creek was thrilled with his performance.

“I have been running in this race since I was in fourth grade and I love it,” Strole said. “Every year the whole community comes out and runs or supports people and it is great.”

Charles Linneweber of White River Valley elementary school was the first across the finish-line in the below ten category of the race, marking a time of 6:16.

Williams, who is entering his 20th year as the race director, announced that The Mile race will be the RRCA National Mile in 2020. Williams was also thrilled to announce that over 200 children took part in the event.

“This race promotes youth running programs and so many kids ran today,” Williams said. “The Road Runners worked hard putting this on and the community involvement and volunteers means a lot.”

Khloe Lafata, a fourth grader at Riley elementary school, said it was a fun way to spend the Fourth of July but was ready for a rest and the night’s festivities, something that all of the participants were surely looking forward to.

“It was really fun today, but I will be watching the fireworks all night long.” Lafata said.