Lynchburg, VA - Hundreds of people shut down the streets of downtown Lynchburg Saturday morning as they took part in the "Angels Race" triathlon.
The race was started in honor of a girl who was killed in a car accident. It was started by the family of Brittany Groover who died more than 10 years ago. The race started a year after her death with 100 participants. Now, at it's 12th year, more than 500 competed.
Not all of the runners knew Brittany, but they all do have one thing in common, they each race for their own angel.
"It's gone so far beyond Brittany to where folks come they don't know who Brittany was they don't know anything about that story but they have their story so it's just meant it awful lot to see people find their own meaning in it and be able to go around and share that I love just going around and asking folks 'Ok, tell me about the name that's on your arm, who is that? Why are you here?" said Tim Groover who is Brittany’s Dad and the Race Coordinator.
Marcus Conrad grew up with Brittany Groover. He's been a part of her race since its beginning.
"Every year there's a different angel to race for. There's always someone in your life who unfortunately moves on. So it's been a powerful thing to see everyone who's been affected by this race," said Conrad.
There were also more than a thousand volunteers at the race, including Nancy Broman, Brittany's grandmother. She says she's been at the finish line since the first race in 2003.
"'People are so excited about racing for their angels, and it's-- you can hear them coming in now-- some people don't have an angel, but usually by the end of the race they do," said Broman.
Joseph Anderson crossed the finish line first. He says his angel is his Dad, who is in Uganda with the US Army.
"He's over there serving our country, so I'm doing it for my Dad today," said Anderson. No matter what, everyone has a story to tell. "It has just been a real blessing to be able to see folks come out and be inspired by the folks that meant something to them and you know share in what we have found to be a really healing event," said Groover.
The race started at the Downtown YMCA with a three- hundred meter swim. Then racers biked a 25K bike course, and they finished with a 5K run. Joseph Anderson finished all of that in just over one hour.