As 2,313 runners lined up for the Run for the Troops 5K on Sunday morning, Marine Cpl. Kevin Dubois sat in The Center at Punchard and reflected on the year since he was named the 2013 race honoree.
It was his first return to Andover after last year’s Run for the Troops helped raise funds to build his Burrillville, R.I., home.
The house was finished in December, just weeks before Dubois and his wife, Kayla, welcomed their first son to the family.
“The people brought us back (to Andover),” Dubois said. “The town is huge, and 2,000 for a 5K? That’s pretty awesome. I came back because this needs a lot of support.”
Sunday’s turnout represented a more than 30 percent increase in race participants over last year — all coming out to support the Taunton-based Homes For Our Troops, which builds specially designed houses for handicapped soldiers in need.
Also rising sharply was the number of teams joining the cause, with five times as many groups signing onto the event, according to Steve Moland, who oversaw race registrations.
Matching the powerful turnout Sunday was equally gorgeous weather, with not a cloud seen in the sky for a fourth year in a row.
“Something we get really excited about is the weather,” Moland said. “We’ve had this kind of weather every year.”
While organizers are still tallying how much was raised through the race as well as a companion Run for the Troops dinner held last Friday night, an uptick in the final total was also expected.
Randstad Technologies, based in Woburn, fielded the largest race team. Numbering about 150 runners, the team also raised well over $5,000 in donations. Randstad’s vice president, Peter Clark of Andover, has been a Run for the Troops regular.
Another well-represented team was the Merrimack Valley Striders, which had 91 runners donning red shirts for the race. Many also attended the fundraising dinner in a show of support.