ASHTABULA — Red, white and blue running shorts, shirts and skirts focused Thursday’s Ashtabula YMCA 1 mile, 5K and 10K Firecracker runs on remembering the birth of a nation.

“We have been at other races where they did this (dress in red, white and blue) and we just decided to do it up,” said Julie Phares after she finished the 5K in a red, white and blue skirt, red T-shirt and other patriotic garb.

“It is important to honor this day,” she said.

Ashtabula County YMCA Executive Director Trevor Sprague said all memberships help support the community.

“Today you are running to help provide access (to the YMCA) for people who wouldn’t be able to afford it,” he said.

Longtime YMCA supporter Vivian Plats announced the course directions and then jumped in the race for the fifth or sixth year in a row.

Lakeside High School graduate John McNutt bested the field in the 5K winning the race in a time of 18:12.

McNutt just finished his four-year career at Ohio Northern and is trying to keep his running intensity up while preparing to finish his degree this fall. “I used up my eligibility,” he said.

McNutt said he loved the atmosphere in the Ohio Northern program.

“It was awesome. I would go back and do it again ... I love everyone of those guys,” he said.

Geneva High School graduate Emily Deering is in the same situation after recently setting the 800-meter record at Ohio University and preparing for her new life in Washington D.C. She said she is moving to Washington D.C. on Sunday and going to work for an accounting firm.

She hopes to keep her competitive running moving along, but will have a busy schedule. “I am studying for the CPA exam,” she said.

Lakeside High School graduate Grant Kingston has only been running for a year, but won the 10K in a time of 41:23 and Elaine Gonzalez won the female division in a time of 50:06.

“I was out of school and I didn’t get want to gain weight,” the Baldwin Wallace University student said. He said running is “just a hobby.”

More than 165 competitors hit the streets of Ashtabula during the race that has been an Ashtabula County fixture since the late 1970s.