Nearly 50 runners and walkers braved single-digit and low-teen temperatures late Wednesday morning to aid the cause of orphaned children who live in one of the hottest countries in the world.

At the same time, the local athletes used a unique, really cool way to celebrate the inauguration of a new year.

As bitter cold engulfed them Jan. 1, bundled up runners and walkers participated in the "Set The Pace" 5-kilometer road race/walk to benefit Go! Malawi.

The first local 3.1-mile race of 2014 started and ended at the Smokestack Bar & Grille on Mechanic Street. The business sponsored Wednesday's race.

David Root, 41, of Hope was the first overall finisher, and the first male to cross the course in 18 minutes and 41 seconds.

Lauren Jellison, 31, of Camden was the first female finisher, placing fifth overall in 21:40.

Click for photos from this race.

As cold as it was Wednesday, it was lucky the race was not held a day later as Thursday, Jan. 2 was even more brutal, with temperatures below zero and wind chills at minus-10 or so.

The New Year's Day race was the first of five holiday 5Ks Go! Malawi, a non-profit, organizes annually to raise money to fund their programs in rural Malawi, Africa.

Go! Malawi helps educate orphaned children in order to give them a hand up and a chance at a productive life. The organization's founder, Janet Littlefield, is a Union native, and a lifelong educator who teaches at Hebron Academy and spends summers in Malawi.

The event to kick off 2014 allowed participants to start the new year in a healthy, positive, global and very cold way. Some years the event has been held in "warmer" 30-degree weather, but a few years, like this one, was especially cold.

The annual 5K race series is organized by local volunteers from Team Go! Malawi. The team consists of local, "kindhearted" walkers and runners who share a common vision: “To Run With a Purpose, For a Purpose.” They challenge themselves to be physically fit and to make a positive global change supporting Go! Malawi, said Reade Brower, a member of the team.

Some team members undertake the commitment, challenge and joys of an annual fall destination half- or full marathon, Brower said. Team Go! Malawi also will start, in this new year, a free weekly “Run Social” for weekend runs in the Midcoast. Beginners and elite runners are welcome to attend the first “social” on Saturday, Jan, 4 at 8 a.m. at the Penobscot Bay YMCA in Rockport.

To learn more about Team Go! Malawi, contact race director Andrew Bonarrigo at masonman321@yahoo.com, or board members Brower at Reade@freepressonline.com and Littlefield at Janet@go-malawi.org.

The individual "Set The Pace" results from Jan. 1 were: 1, D. Root, 44, Hope, 18:41; 2, Tyler Lupien, 38, Waldoboro, 18:58; 3, Darren Wichenbach, 32, Waldoboro, 21:22; 4, Richard Bissett Sr., 40, Waldoboro, 21:35; 5, Jellison, 31, Camden, 21:40; 6, Ron Haney, 56, Warren, 21:51; 7, Adam Bishop, 36, Camden, 21:55; 8, Liela Banks, 24, Belfast, 22:02; 9, Johanna Szillery, 39, Old Town, 22:03; 10, Dave Farrer, 57, Bangor, 22:08; 11, Judith Massuer, 40, Hope, 22:19; 12, Peter Rubenstien, 50, Camden, 22:42; 13, Matt Cavanaugh, 25, Rockport, 22:55; 14, Dayton Dinsmore, 12, South Thomaston, 23:14; 15, Jan Pitcairn, 48, Linconville, 23:33; 16, Jala Tooley, 34, Camden, 24:29; 17, David Slagger, 51, Winterport, 24:59; 18, Carol Manley, 59, Washington, 25:05; 19, Amy Root, 42, Hope, 26:09; 20, Phoebe Root, 10, Hope, 26:10; 21, Sarah Omally, 41, Sedgwick, 26:53; 22, Claire Dufort, 32, Bath, 26:58; 23, Sandy Welte, 58, Camden, 27:11; 24, Art Warren, 78, Camden, 27:18; 25, Benjamin Calderwood, 16, Richmond, 27:20; 26, R. B., 35, Camden, 27:22; 27, Dave Samuelian, 67, Bangor, 28:13; 28, Donna Ames, 60, Camden, 29:09; 29, Hilda Livingstone, 59, Hope, 30:10; 30, Alma Aranda, 43, Lewiston, 30:26; 31, Lyn Tesseyman, 34, Rockport, 30:38; 32, Reade Brower, 57, Camden, 30:44; 33, Ellen Spring, 61, Thomaston, 31:13; 34, Alicia Collins, 43, Augusta, 31:13; 35, Mary Tobey, 38, Castine, 32:09; 36, Eric Calderwood, 45, Richmond, 32:20; 37, Tom Savidge, 70, Camden, 32:35; 38, Lynette Calderwood, 41, Richmond, 33:02; 39, Leslie Pelletier, 38, Belfast, 33:09; 40, Jody Dinsmore, 41, South Thomaston, 33:33; 41, Constance Calderwood, 13, Richmond, 33:40; 42, Anne Pullman, 30, Rockport, 37:19; 43, Marybeth Pullman, 64, Longwood, 37:20; 44, Jane Rasmussen, 77, Tenants Harbor, 37:43; 45, Karen Tooley, 45, Camden, 38:46; 46, Kristin Brown, 54, Rockland, 39:45; 47, Trina Johnson, 38, Thomaston, 41:32 13:23; and 48, Anne Miller, 33, Camden, 41:38.