The Tortoise & Hare 5K road race will celebrate its 16th anniversary on Thursday on a course that runs down Putnam Drive and winds up in Owen Park.

The Indianhead Track Club event begins at 6:30 p.m. near Demmler Park on Putnam Drive and winds up near the Band Shell in Owen Park. It will be  preceded by a free half-mile kids run at 6 p.m. in the Demmler area.

The defending champion is Aaron Easker, who won last year’s event in 15 minutes, 2 seconds,  finishing ahead of Scotty Hayden, J.P. Nelson and Dan Schwamberger. Hayden and Schwamberger are expected to be back.

It is expected that Marie Schwamberger will return to defend the women’s title, which she won last year in 19:34, just ahead of Jen Chapman.

The course record of 14:44 was set by national-class runner Chad Johnson in the original 1999 race. Dani Fischer set the women’s standard of 17:45 set in 2011.

A total of 151 runners took part last year but the race has drawn as many as 217. Race director Heidi Zielke expects a good turnout.

Registration and race-packet pickup will be in from 4:30 to 5:45 p.m. in Owen Park prior to the race. For those not wanting to jog to the starting line, a shuttle bus will run between 5:15 and 6:10 p.m. The registration fee is $26.