With a blast from an air horn Sunday morning, Royals legend George Brett sent more than 8,000 runners down Grand Boulevard for the All-Star Game Charity 5K and Fun Run.
It was the largest turnout yet for an All-Star run, Brett announced just before the sea of runners made its way south from the Sprint Center.
The overcast sky provided some reprieve from the scorching weather for the runners, some of whom made fashion a priority. A group of girls sporting tie-dyed T-shirts had tied blue-and-white faux mohawks to their heads with blue bandanas. Below the words “I stand up for” on a sign they carried from race sponsor and non-profit Stand Up to Cancer, they had written “Aunt Deb.”
Many had the same large sign stuck to their clothes with different names penned into the blank space.
Grandma. Hannah. Myself.
Some had lists of names in cramped handwriting.
Mascots from various Major League teams ran through the crowd, high-fiving children and posing for pictures. There was Mariner Moose, Junction Jack of the Astros, Ace of the Toronto Blue Jays, and, of course, hometown boy Sluggerrr the Lion.
Sluggerrr hugged Terri Hickman, who came in from Oklahoma to meet up with family who had flown in from Guam. Hickman pointed to a red stroller carrying 9-month-old Orion. By the time he turns 1, Hickman said, he’ll have run in 100 races — with his mother, who’s been pushing his stroller as she completes those runs.
Strollers weren’t allowed in Sunday’s 5K, so Orion’s grandfather Dave Skornia pushed the boy along in the Fun Run that kicked off after the 5K runners had left the starting line.
Brett thanked the crowd as the runners and supporters — who filled the width of the boulevard for blocks — waited within white gates for the race to start.
“You understand now why we live here,” Brett said, addressing out-of-towners. “This is a wonderful city. I’m proud to be a Kansas Citian.”
Tim Brosnan, vice president of business for Major League Baseball, echoed Brett.
“What’s really terrific is the embrace that the folks of Kansas City have put on baseball this week,” Brosnan said. “It really has been one giant baseball celebration.”