Enthusiastic participants in the 13th annual Pumpkin Run & Walk didn’t let morning snow showers and breezy conditions dampen the spirit and fun of the event Saturday morning in Cloquet.
The large race field included 225 registered runners and walkers who participated in the Pumpkin Run and Walk Five Kilometer Race held at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College on Saturday, October 20. The race featured a seven-time Pumpkin Run Champion in the overall men’s division and a first-time Pumpkin Run winner in the overall women’s division, plus three age-group records were broken.
Overall winner Eric Hartmark of Duluth led a speedy frontrunning trio that included Scott Behling of Duluth and Evan Walpole of Superior, with Hartmark pulling away to win in 16:02 to capture his seventh Pumpkin Run Champion title. Behling finished second in 16:09 and Walpole was third in 16:12 in the tightly contested race. Hartmark set an age group record in the 40-49 category, and Behling set a record in the 20-29 age group.
A first-time Pumpkin Run Champion was crowned in the women’s overall division with Anne Hyopponen of Duluth crossing the finish line in 20:11 for the win, placing her sixth overall and establishing a record in the 20-29 age group. Second place went to Haley Egge of Esko in 20:41, followed by Kelly Pechous of Duluth in 20:46 for third place. Defending 2017 Pumpkin Run Women’s Champion Harmony Tracy, age 14 of Cloquet, was fourth overall in 21:07 in what proved to be a competitive women’s field.
“The morning temperature was 30 degrees with gusty winds, but it didn’t seem to bother our race participants and everyone was having fun. Conditions were still fast for racing as we had four age-group records broken this year,” said Tom Urbanski, FDLTCC director of public information and who also serves as the Pumpkin Run race director. “For the record, this was the coldest temperature at the official race start time in the history of the Pumpkin Run. I still saw lots of smiles and happy people, so we can call it another successful Pumpkin Run.”
The Pumpkin Run course is certified by US Track and Field and the results count for points in the annual Minnesota Runner of the Year standings.
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 including the trio of Goofy, Mickey and Minnie Mouse; a Little Pumpkin Dude; a miniature Santa Claus with a full-grown elf; a rooster; a multi-person entry of a police officer with two inmates; another group entry of a hot dog, shark, and leopard; plus a unicorn with rider; and a nun & banana combination.
Another Pumpkin Run tradition is awarding medals to the fastest Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students in the race. This year, Peter Noffsinger of Esko was the men’s division winner in 28:12, and Kasey Meyer of Carlton won the women’s division in 48:53.
The race course started on campus and then followed 14th Street going south to the Valley View neighborhood and then turned around on Harner Lane and returned along 14th Street to the campus. The race was professionally timed by Gopher State Events using electronic chip timing attached to each participant’s race number bib, and individual results and a finish line photo were sent to each finisher immediately upon crossing the finish line.
Local businesses helped sponsor the race through prize and refreshment donations, including Super One Foods, Duluth Running Company, Tortoise & Hare Footwear, Austin Jarrow, Mellin Promotional Advertising, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Miller Vending/7-Up Bottling, B&B Market, and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
Volunteers and race assistance were provided by Cloquet Police Department, Carlton County Transportation Department, FDLTCC Nursing and Law Enforcement program students, neighbors along the race route, friends of the college, and FDLTCC staff.
Complete race results are available at www.gopherstateevents.com and a photo gallery will be posted on the college Facebook page.