On a spectacular autumn morning for a running race, a record field of 428 registered runners and walkers participated in the tenth annual Pumpkin Run and Walk Five Kilometer Race held at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet on Saturday, October 24. The race featured new champions in the overall men’s and women’s divisions and produced five age-group records on a great morning for running.
First-time Pumpkin Run entrant Luke Salik of Minneapolis cruised easily ahead of all runners to the finish in a time of 17:44. Salik is originally from Grand Rapids, MI, and the 24-year old is attending seminary in the Twin Cities. Sixty-year-old Randy Wiianen of Iron, MN, was second overall in 19:19, and Sawyer Morgan of Ogilvie, MN, was third in 19:29. The champion’s younger brother, Josiah Salik (age 19), was fourth overall in 19:47, and Cloquet’s Robert Smith captured fifth place in 19:52. While Smith has completed the Pumpkin Run in previous years, this was the first year that the top four finisher’s competed in the Pumpkin Run.
Another first-time Pumpkin Run champion was crowned in the women’s division, as Amy Flessert of Superior, WI, was the first female to cross the finish line in a time of 22:30. Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College faculty member Jen MacKay of Duluth was second in 22:41, and returning 2014 Pumpkin Run Women’s Champion Chris Dincau of Esko was third in 22:59. McGregor’s Heather Nistler was fourth in 23:22, and Leah Hammond of Cloquet was fifth in 23:23 in what proved to be a competitive women’s field. An outstanding sixth-place overall finish was clocked in by 11-year-old Harmony Tracy of Canyon, MN with a time of 23:31.
Age group records were established in both men’s and women’s divisions: Sawyer Morgan of Ogilvie set a new mark with a time of 19:29 in the men’s 15-19 age group; Randy Wiianen’s 19:19 time set a new mark in the 60-69 age group for men; and Dan Sydow of Duluth lowered the men’s 70-and-over age group record to 26:40. Harmony Tracy of Canyon dropped the record in the 14-and-under women’s age group to 23:31; and Sharon Archambault of Moose Lake broke her own record in the 70-and-over women’s age group with a time of 32:57.
“It really was a tremendous morning on campus with the record field of participants and the amount of energy and enthusiasm everyone brought to the Pumpkin Run,” said Tom Urbanski, FDLTCC director of public information and who also serves as the Pumpkin Run race director. “When you make plans for 325 participants based on a steady level of participants in recent years and then you break your record by over one hundred people, it’s a great feeling and a lot of fun. People were enjoying the event, the competition was solid, and the costumes were some of the best.”
Many of the 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 crowd favorites Addison and Andrew Kozelouzek of Cloquet in their orange construction cone and construction worker outfits, David Sunnaborg of Esko who ran the entire distance in a furry gorilla suit and mask, Cindy Braff of Ely and Linda Spencer of Hermantown as giant sumo wrestlers, and Shelley DeCaigny and Kristin Clark of Cloquet as the Good Witch and Bad Witch from the Wizard of Oz.
Another Pumpkin Run tradition is awarding medals to the fastest Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College students in the race. This year, Ryan Bradley of Duluth won the men’s division in 21:41, and Naomi DeFoe of Cloquet won the women’s division in 28:30.
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 were sent to each finisher immediately upon crossing the finish line.
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.
Local businesses helped sponsor the race through prize and refreshment donations, including Super One Foods, Wal-Mart, Duluth Running Company, Tortoise & Hare Footwear, Austin Jarrow, Mellin Promotional Advertising, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Erbert & Gerbert’s, UCare Minnesota, Great Harvest Bakery, Culligan Water, M & M Vending, B & B Market, and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
Volunteers and race assistance was provided by Boy Scout Troop #168-Cloquet, Cloquet Police Department, Carlton County Transportation Department, FDLTCC Nursing and Law Enforcement program students, neighbors along the race route, and FDLTCC staff.