More than 1,500 registered for the 10th Annual Tuscaloosa Mayor's Cup 5K and new 10K races on Saturday, marking the highest total in history. The annual event serves as a major fundraiser for the city's pre-kindergarten school program.

"Since the inaugural Mayor’s Cup in 2007, we've raised an astounding $172,000 to provide resources for at-risk preschoolers throughout the Tuscaloosa area," Mayor Walt Maddox comments as posted on the Mayor's Cup website.

The mayor adds, "the Tuscaloosa Pre-K Initiative, which focuses on 21 pre-k classrooms and more than 250 preschool students, is important to the educational growth in our community. Pre-k students are not only more prepared for kindergarten, but they also have higher rates of success throughout school. This gives at-risk children a base for a successful scholastic career."

The weather was picture perfect for this popular community event held at Government Plaza downtown. Minutes before joining the first wave of runners taking on the new 10K course, I went live on Facebook to capture the moment. The video is posted below, as you'll see the mayor speaking (and the little girl near me:), along with a prayer and the National Anthem. The video roams around to show the crowd. Keep in mind, most of the participants were registered to run the 5K slated to start 15 minutes later, so many of them are away from the pre-race ceremony area.

Tuscaloosa Mayor's Cup Pre-Race Ceremony

I really liked the new 10K course which added the River Walk to the tradition run down to Bryant-Denny Stadium and back. But, that hill coming up from the river seemed to never end. Thank goodness it was in the first half of the race.

It's always fun running around the historic downtown area, campus and The Strip, it's even better when you're in a race like the Mayor's Cup where you don't have to dodge traffic when crossing streets. A big plus, and a big thank you to Tuscaloosa and UA Police for holiding vehicle traffic.

The post race festivities included plenty of water and Gatorade, along with fruits and granola bars. The Avenue Pub serving mini-burgers really hit the spot!

Another highlight to the day, the mascot race! Oh those giant characters had their moment to run for glory, and the bragging rights! The City of Tuscaloosa posted video showing the mad dash which Sparky won!

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