An Austin POWER 5K participant receives a medal from Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) during the Sept. 24 event. | Lee Edwards/Contributor

The second annual Austin P.O.W.E.R. 5K united various community stakeholders around common activities: running and/or walking. Over 200 people participated in the Sept. 24 event, including elected officials, members of the clergy and local residents.

The Austin P.O.W.E.R. 5K promotes the partnership of local residents, businesses, and organizations that are united in developing greater opportunities for the Austin community, according to its website.

Austin African American Business Networking Association, Inc.  (AAABNA) founder and director Malcolm Crawford, one of several event organizers, said the decision to host the marathon was made in an effort to showcase the community in a positive light.

He said the initial idea for the marathon came from the Chicago Police Department’s 15th Dist. Chicago Alternative Policing (CAPS) program, which is designed to foster a working partnership between police and residents. The marathon took place on Chicago Ave., with the start/finish line at Mayfield Ave.

“Because Chicago Ave. is our focus in the community, we decided to do it on Chicago Ave. and get everyone out on the street where they can get to laugh, talk, interact and be positive within the community,” said Crawford, whose AAABNA organization a non-profit grassroots business to business networking organization.

Crawford said all remaining funds from the 5K will be donated to the CAPS Police Explorers program, which educates local youth about the police department.

Marathon participants received complimentary t-shirts and medals of completion after crossing the finish line. Complimentary water bottles, bananas, snacks, and various vendor tables were stationed at the end of the race as well.

Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward) said he was “extremely happy,” that his ward hosted the 5K in partnership with 37th Ward Ald. Emma Mitts. Taliaferro completed the race with several members of his staff and was greeted by his family at the finish line. The purpose of the 5K was to bring the community together, said Taliaferro.

“I think what Malcolm Crawford and AAABNA have done is fantastic,” said Taliaferro. “We’re bringing the community together, businesses together, to bring economic development to the ward so this is very important.”

Mitts volunteered to hand out honorary completion medals to marathoners after they passed the finish line. Although she opted not to run in the marathon this year, she suggested that running could help alleviate stress to participants, particularly Austin residents.

“This is our second year and next year will be even better,” she said. “What’s really good about it is that a lot of the runners said they’ve never been in a 5K before, so we’re going to keep cheering them on all the way.”

Austin resident Tyrise Brinson, who completed the 5K with friends and co-workers, shared her glee over the community coming together for the 5K. She fully endorsed the marathon and encouraged Austin residents and others alike to participate next year.

“I love this community and I just wanted to come out and support just to show that we have amazing things happening in the Austin area,” said Brinson. “I see so many smiling faces, I see so much unity from here today, it’s amazing, [and] this is the heart and fabric of the Austin community.”