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      Running for Rita and the Brain Tumor Center

      A record number of runners raced around Marquette Saturday for the eighth annual Hope Starts Here Challenge.

      It was a cold and snowy run for the 622 runners. They had their choice of competing in a duathlon, running a 5K, 10K, or half marathon, or just walking. All money raised is donated to the Upper Michigan Brain Tumor Center. Many chose to race in support or memory of a loved one with a brain tumor. Ashley Leppanen and about 30 friends and family members were "Running for Rita," her mother who passed away in 2010. Rita was diagnosed with brain cancer about 20 years ago.

      "They gave her a few years to live and she lasted for 20. So we're here supporting all those others that have been in the same situation," said Leppanen.

      This year's Hope Starts Here Challenge raised nearly $20,000 for the Brain Tumor Center.