Power Rangers, princesses, cheerleaders, the President of the United States, a toilet paper roll, and many other colorful characters gathered Saturday morning on Grand Street just east of First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro for the fourth running of The Great Pumpkin Race.
“We just love to do this,” race master of ceremonies and event spokesperson Kelly Linnens of Hillsboro said. “The costumes were really great this year. We had awards and certificates for race winners and costume class winners, so almost everyone went home with something.”
Linnens said the race, sponsored by First Mennonite Church of Hillsboro, raised money for local organizations.
“Our purpose this year was to generate money and canned goods for Main Street Ministries here in town,” he said. “I haven’t tallied up all the money yet, but Sunday afternoon we delivered five large boxes of food and bottled water.”
Linnens said there were 119 registered participants in the race, but not everybody had a time chip or ran to win, so total numbers crossing the finishing line might not have been accurate.
“It really was a fun atmosphere,” he said. “Some ran the 5K, others walked, and other chose to do the quarter mile with the kids 12 and under.”
Several runners from out-of-town joined local participants, including a 74-year-old woman from Wichita.
“This is the second year she came out to run with us and this year she bettered her time by two minutes,” Linnens said. “That’s just incredible.”
The youngest participant to cross the finish line may have been a 3-year-old boy who came with his family from east Wichita.
“His mom and dad ran in the 5K and his older siblings, age 7 and 5, ran in the kids race,” Linnens said. “We had a great range of participants.”
Many participants from First Mennonite were concluding a “Couch to 5K” exercise plan program through the church.
“We had several people go from taking an hour to run three miles to getting it done today in less than 50 minutes,” Linnens said. “That’s great improvement.”
More than 40 entrants in the kids’ race were members of the Hillsboro Kids Running Club, headed by Mike Moran at Hillsboro Elementary School.
“They meet every Thursday evening to run and just do some active activities,” Linnens said. “It was great to have them all part of the race and they got a discount for entering.”
Most participants paid an entry fee, but Linnens said some runners went the extra mile and secured additional sponsors, generating $100 or more per person.
“All of the money goes to a good cause here locally,” he said. “It was just a great morning to get out and run and have some fun together. We’re already talking about plans for next year.”