Downtown Rome’s fall festivities kicked off Saturday morning with overcast skies along with a cool breeze as runners lined up for the second largest 5K race and two-mile health walk in Rome, the Harbin Hero Hustle.

Heroes of all ages, comic books, and universes took off from the First Avenue starting line as over 600 costumed crusaders made their way around downtown Rome and Myrtle Hill before finishing at the Town Green.

The race was sponsored by Harbin Clinic to raise money for their partner Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation. Harbin Clinic’s Senior Director of Marketing Leanne Cook said that the raised funds will go towards park maintenance, various programs, camps and trail upkeep. Other sponsors to the race were Pridemore-Cox Orthodontics and Parker Fiber Net.

Kevin Cowling, director of the RFPRA, said that a few years ago the fall 5K race started as the Zombie-thon now has a hero theme.

“Somebody’s got to clean up the zombies” Cowling said.

Before the race, participants stretched and took laps around Broad Street to warm up. Also taking place before-hand was a costume contest with categories in best junior hero or villain, best hero or villain, and best dynamic duo. The winners of the contests each received awards as well as the opportunity to cast a 10-point vote towards one of the five charities in the running for the Harbin Hero Challenge.

The first-place runner was Dustin Little who defeated the course with a time of 18:03. Awards for the top three finishers were also awarded in age categories from 10 years and younger to over 75.

During the awards ceremony the winner of the Harbin Hero Challenge, the Rome Floyd County YMCA, received a $1,500 from Harbin Clinic. The winner was determined by votes from registered participants who had a choice between five local charities. Wellness Director for the YMCA Lange House said that she appreciated the community support.  Harbin Clinic also awarded $500 to the remaining four charities Living Proof Recovery, Summit Quest, Floyd County CASA and The Sweet Cocoon.

As runners and walkers exited the race course onto the Town Green they were met with post run snacks provided by Harbin Clinic and large inflatables for younger runners. Meanwhile, Broad Street began shaping up for the rest of the day’s festivities including Fiddlin Fest, Cars on Broad, Georgia’s Rome Taste of Fall and other fall-related activities happening downtown on Saturday.