Miss Ohio

Miss Ohio Caroline Grace Williams removes her crown before the start of the 11th annual Kingwood 5K Run/Walk on Saturday morning, joined by race director Doug Heestand.

MANSFIELD -- Caroline Grace Williams has made countless public appearances during her reign as Miss Ohio, especially considering her tenure was extended for a year due to a pandemic that cancelled last year's scholarship pageant.

But few things may have tested the talented 26-year-old musical performer as much as the 11th annual Kingwood 5K Run/Walk on Saturday morning, almost two years to the day she was crowned at the Renaissance Theatre in Mansfield.

Williams, a Cincinnati native who has found a home in Mansfield performing on the same stage she was crowned, led a record crowd of almost 300 runners and walkers on a bright, warm June morning that almost served as a "coming out" party for residents eager to put COVID-19 behind them.

Williams served double duty, singing the national anthem before the race and then taking off her familiar crown and joining the crowd of anxious athletes, a group that featured all ages and stages of fitness.

"I didn't train for this," she said with a laugh after finishing 12th in her age group in 36:57.03, a respectable showing for someone whose mind has been no doubt focused on the upcoming Miss Ohio Week, which will culminate June 19 with the finale, when Williams will finally pass on her crown.