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Cloquet Middle School students (from left) Kelly Lorenz, Kendra Kelley and Elisa Pickar run hand in hand during last year's Pumpkin Run. File Photo

Eighth Annual Pumpkin Run and Walk set for Oct. 19 at college

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The pumpkins are coming. Get ready to run!

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will host the eighth annual Pumpkin Run and Walk at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. The race distance is five kilometers (3.1 miles) and the route will begin and end on the campus at 2101 14th St., Cloquet. The event is open to runners and walkers of all ages and abilities. The entry fee leading up to and on race day is $20 for everyone, with special pre-registration rates for students and individuals if submitted prior to Oct. 14. Entry forms are available at area running stores and sporting goods stores, at the college, and on the college website.

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 "The Pumpkin Run and Walk race is a great campus and community event that attracts local participants as well as people who come from as far away as the Twin Cities and Canada," said Tom Urbanski, director of public information at FDLTCC. "We have been averaging around 300 official participants in the past few years, which is a perfect size for our event. With many early registrations coming in, we expect a similar number for this year. We have a delivery of premium pumpkins from Simek's Pumpkin Ranch scheduled to arrive, and our sponsors have been quick to jump back on board again. Participants can expect the same great race and festive atmosphere at this year's Pumpkin Run and Walk."

To celebrate the theme of the race, participants are encouraged, but certainly not required, to wear Halloween costumes or wear orange clothing. Prizes will be given for the best costumes, and the competition for best costume is always popular.

The race attracts top-level talent as well as families and recreational runners and walkers. Urbanski estimates that about 25 percent of participants are walkers. The course record of 15:13 is held by Eric Hartmark, one of Minnesota's best distance runners and a past qualifier for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the marathon event. Top area runner Amanda Lepisto of Duluth set a new course record for women last year with a time of 19:20. The race course has a reputation for producing fast times and is certified by the USATF.

"Our post-race surveys each year tell us that people really enjoy the Pumpkin Run," Urbanski said. "They confirm that we have a nice course with solid competition, as well as having a friendly attitude for the walkers and family participants looking for a nice workout and fun time. We look forward to reading the positive, constructive, and sometimes humorous comments after the race each year and make notes on how to change things for future years. We have a good thing going here."

The Pumpkin Run's 5K course is a mix of the campus ring road, County Road 3 (14th Street), and the residential streets of Valley View Drive and Harner Lane. Essentially flat, the course features a fast downhill stretch with a return trip up the same hill. Mile markers will be posted and traffic control safety will be conducted by Law Enforcement and Nursing program students at the college, with assistance from the Cloquet Police Department, Boy Scouts, and neighbors who live along the race route.

Every registered finisher will receive a long-sleeve T-shirt and post-race refreshments. Medals will be awarded to the top three overall male and female finishers. Age group awards will be given to the top male and female in each of the following age groups: under 15, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70-plus. An award will be given to the fastest male and female FLDTCC students who pre-register for the race.

The event offers indoor facilities and warm gathering areas before and after the race, healthy refreshments after the race, plenty of free parking in campus lots, and door prize drawings.

For more information or to get an entry form, visit the college website at www.fdltcc.edu/businessandcommunity/pumpkin-run or call 218-879-0800.

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