The summer run season has officially kicked off with the 40th annual Alaska Heart Run.

Thousands of Alaskans lined up Saturday morning at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage to compete in timed and non-timed 5K runs as well as a 3K walk. The Alaska Heart Run benefits the American Heart Association, raising over $245,000 this year.

Dr. Gene Quinn of Alaska Heart and Vascular Institute stressed the importance of helping fund the American Heart Association.

“A fantastic organization -- they help a lot of people," Quinn said. "Just getting out and being active is a very important part of heart health.”

Money raised goes towards research for new treatments of heart diseases, and also provides educational resources in the community.

“The biggest risk factors for developing heart disease, especially coronary artery disease which is blockages of the arteries, are things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking," Quinn said. "And then there's a couple of things you can’t change as much like age and having a family history of heart diseases.”

A total of 1,112 people competed in the timed 5K, with UAA senior runner Edwin Kangogo taking the top time of 15 minutes and 23 seconds -- just ahead of U.S. Olympian Eric Bjornsen, who took second place two seconds later. Palmer’s Christy Marvin was the top female finisher with a time of 17:44, running for her niece who has struggled with heart disease.

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