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Cloquet River Run set for Saturday

Breakout box: IF YOU GO

The 10th annual Cloquet River Run will take place Saturday, Sept. 23, at Churchill Elementary, at 515 Granite St., Cloquet. Race day registration and packet pick-up are from 8-8:45 a.m. Saturday. The one-mile run/walk begins at 9 a.m., the 5K race starts at 9:30 a.m. and the free 6-and-under kids' race will follow at approximately 10:45 a.m. There will be an awards ceremony at 11 a.m.

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Saturday will mark 10 years since Churchill Elementary School supporters organized the first Cloquet River Run.

The 5K race — a fundraiser for Churchill Elementary School — has become famous for its challenging finish climb, variety of surfaces and spectacular scenery. The one-mile course meanders through the local neighborhood and is great for participants of all ages to challenge themselves to reach their personal goals.

This year's race organizer, Holly Peterson, said the 5K course will be somewhat different this year because of construction at Voyageurs Park, which also means the race course also won't be officially certified.

"Parts of it are the same, but before you get to the bridge, runners will go down a service road and then back and under the bridge," Peterson explained. "They'll still go across the river and around the Northeastern, but then they'll turn around and go back through the campground (instead of Voyageurs Park)."

However, since the actual Voyageur statue has been moved to the other side of the bridge, runners will still get to race under his watchful eyes.

"It'll still be a full 5K, and a beautiful one," she said, noting that her husband and kids will be running, while she is busy making things run. She was a little wistful about missing it, noting that her third-grade son has run the 5K every year since he was in early-fives.

"So it's kind of a big deal for him," she said. "And I really like the event. It's a fun day for the kids and fun to watch the families."

Much of the course goes near the St. Louis River and past many trees, dressed for autumn.

Peterson said the committee and the kids at Churchill are excited about the 10th anniversary. The race has paid for many improvements at the elementary school over the past nine years, extra things that weren't in the the school district budget but which make school an even better place.

Organized by the Churchill Partners in Education group, 70 percent of race proceeds go toward health and fitness-related programs and equipment and 30 percent for school technology maintenance. Peterson said they ask Principal Dave Wangen and staff for a wish list, and the race committee decides what fits its fundraising and its health and wellness focus the most.

Last year, one of the items the River Run paid for was a drinking fountain where kids can fill up their water bottles, among many other things, Peterson said.

The weekend festivities actually begin Friday, Sept. 22, with race registration and packet pickup, along with the pasta and salad feed from 5-7 p.m. at Churchill Elementary, 515 Granite St. Price for the pasta and salad dinner is $8 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and under. Purchase tickets at the door.

Online registration closes at midnight today (Thursday, Sept. 21) but you can still register on-site at Churchill from 5-7 p.m. Friday and 8-8:45 a.m. Saturday.

Registration fees for the 5K race are $15 for ages 12 and under and $22 for 13 and older through today. For the one mile, the fees are $10 for 12 and under and $15 for 13 and above. Fees increase to $27 for the older age group 5K runners Sept. 22-23.

Awards include engraved medals presented to first, second and third place in each of many age divisions. Also, unique engraved rocks are presented to the overall male and female winners of each race as well as special rocks for the winners of the 12 and under category.

To register or learn more, visit www.cloquetriverrun.com or go to Churchill Elementary School.

Although Peterson was a little worried Tuesday night because the weather forecast was hinting at thunderstorms, she was generally optimistic about the big event.

"We've run in the rain, but we've never had to deal with thunderstorms and hopefully we won't have to worry about them this year either," she said.

There is no rain date for the race.

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