Enthusiastic participants in the 12th annual Pumpkin Run & Walk didn't let morning rain showers dampen the spirit and fun of the event.
On an unseasonably warm morning Saturday, Oct. 21, the race field included 324 registered runners and walkers who participated in the Pumpkin Run & Walk 5K race at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
Race participants helped celebrate the theme and season of the Pumpkin Run event by wearing costumes or orange and black clothing. Competition was keen for the coveted best costume awards, with the winners covering a range of characters from rock 'n' roll band ZZ Top and Hall and Oates, to a little pumpkin and a set of double pumpkins, to a multi-person Alice in Wonderland crew, plus an inflatable horse with rider and a pair of jellyfish.
The race featured first-time Pumpkin Run winners in the overall men's division and the overall women's division. Five age group records were broken.
"We didn't have rain during the race in the first 11 years we have been holding the Pumpkin Run & Walk," said Tom Urbanski, director of public information at FDLTCC and race director. "I guess we were overdue to have less-than-perfect weather, but it didn't seem to bother our race participants. Conditions were great for racing."
Overall winner Jordan Koski of Superior clocked a time of 16:31, upsetting six-time Pumpkin Run champion Eric Hartmark of Duluth who finished second in 16:42. David Hypponen of Duluth was third in 17:34, Edward Martin of Superior was fourth in 18:15 and Robert Daiss of Cloquet captured fifth place in 18:30.
Harmony Tracy, 13, of Canyon crossed the finish line in 20:52 for the win, which also placed her ninth overall.
Defending 2016 Pumpkin Run women's champion Samantha Anderson of Wrenshall was second in 22:31, followed by another former Pumpkin Run champion, Amy Flessert of Superior, in 23:36. Cloquet resident Gina Rockstad was fourth in 23:40.
The five age-group records established this year include overall winners Jordan Koski in the men's 20-29 group and Harmony Tracy in the women's 14 and under group. Tracy set the previous record when she was 11 years old.
Brock Bjerke, 15, of Hinckley, broke the men's 15-19 group record with a time of 19:03.
Harry Cottrell of Hermantown, 71, smashed the men's 70 and over group record by more than eight minutes with a time of 21:38.
Marilyn Schnobrich of Duluth, 76, set the record of 29:53 in the women's 70 and over group.
Another Pumpkin Run tradition is awarding medals to the fastest Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students in the race.
This year, David Granholm of Cloquet was the men's division winner in 47 minutes flat. Cheryl Dahl of Superior won the women's division in 39:59.
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The race course started on campus and then followed 14th Street going south to the Valley View neighborhood. It turned around on Harner Lane and returned along 14th Street to the campus.
Chip timing was used. The Pumpkin Run course is certified by U.S. Track and Field and the results count for points in the annual "Minnesota Runner of the Year" standings.
Local businesses helped sponsor the race through prize and refreshment donations.
Volunteers and race assistance was provided by Cloquet Police Department, Carlton County Transportation Department, FDLTCC Nursing and Law Enforcement program students, neighbors along the race route and FDLTCC staff.
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Complete race results are available at gopherstateevents.com. A photo gallery is posted on the college Facebook page.