For nearly 400 runners in Saturday’s 12th annual Pumpkin Run, it’s as if nothing ever changed.
After a dozen years, the Pumpkin is still about proud parents, youthful exuberance, crazy costumes, a spring in the step, fall in the air — oh … and pie.
Lots of pumpkin pie.
“Same as it ever was,” to borrow from the music group The Talking Heads, and thankfully so.
Last April, Raleigh-based Investors Management Corporation acquired Carrboro’s Fleet Feet Sports, the local organizers of last Saturday’s Pumpkin Run 4K. Just last week, the YMCA of the Triangle agreed to manage the local Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA, which is a major promoter and benefactor of the Pumpkin Run. And over the past months, construction has altered the face of Carolina North Forest through which the 2.5-mile trail run traverses.
But the Pumpkin Run has remained one of the area’s most beloved running events
“That’s the beautiful thing about this race — it’s sort of turn-key,” race director and Fleet Feet Carrboro co-owner Brian White said. “The YMCA does what they do so well, we do what we do, and Carolina North has been just awesome in helping to get this together.”
The Fleet Feet Elite Team spent some time in the forest Saturday — as little as possible. Elite Team member Bobby Torphy () sped through the woods in 12:15.59, with fellow members following close behind: Marc Jeuland (12:22.35) in second place, and Brock Baker (12:43.37) capturing third place — in a cow costume no less.
This (forest) is our favorite place to run,” Torphy said, “but I was definitely more nervous for this race this year, because I just don’t like losing to cows.”
Running in the costume “wasn’t as bad as you’d think,” Baker said, chuckling, “but it did get a little hot.”
Crossing the line first among women was Marley Burns (15:07.6), also of the Fleet Feet team. Kai’Aishah Mitchell (16:37) finished in second, and Dana Lebo (17:14.1) took third place.
“It was fun. I love these community events,” Burns said, “And it was great to run with all of the kids around. I’m a second-year medical student, and I have a big test on Monday, so it was just nice to come out, and it was perfect weather.”
First run in 2002, the Pumpkin Run reflected the handiwork of former 1996 Olympian Joan Nesbit Mabe’s women’s running group “See Jane Run,” who saw the family-friendly race as a way to celebrate the beauty of the Carolina North Forest.
Offering homemade pumpkin pie at the post-race party, the Janes inscribed an indelible charm upon the race — a charm which has endured despite cosmetic changes to the event.
Though the race is now coordinated by Fleet Feet Carrboro, the quaint sense of community at the YMCA Saturday evening was still palpable.
“It’s also so great that 100 percent of the profits go back to the YMCA and to the Carolina North Forest,” White said. “This community is great, and there’s just no other local event that compares to this.”
The race raises funds for the YMCA’s “We Build People” campaign — which funds scholarships for kids and families in the community — and for the Carolina North Forest.
“We love events which bring new visitors into the forest,” Carolina North Forest’s Jerry McGovern said, “especially an event which brings so many young people out. We love to promote healthy living, and this forest is such a wonderful local resource.”
A change to the race just last year introduced a wave start with Chronotrack chips, allowing for more participants in the event and also a safer and more enjoyable start. The first wave of competitive adult runners went out at 5 p.m., and a second wave of kids — including members of the local Pacers, Durham Striders, and Mini Milers youth running clubs — took off a minute later. Non-competitive runners followed in a third wave.
“We had over 50 kids running I believe,” Chapel Hill / Carrboro Pacers Running Club head coach Meredith Bolon said, “and we probably had about another 50 parents, friends, and alumni. And we had 67 Pacers and Fleet Feet Mini-milers out at the Pumpkin Run time trial a month ago.”
Along with music by DJ Steve Wray, dancing, and games, there were several contests, including a push-up contest and a contest for best costume, with prizes for the top three places.
Taking the top place for costumes was the Chapel Hill High cross-country team fresh off a first-place finish at a NCHSAA Regional Championship meet that morning. The group costumes were in keeping with the American-vs.-Russian boxing theme from the movie Rocky IV. One of the CHHS runners also took top prize in the push-up contest.
“It was our goal today to win everything that had nothing to do with running the actual race,” Tiger senior Alex Werden joked.
Any changes in store for the event over the next year aren’t as yet formalized, but no matter. The more things change, the more they stay the same. In terms of the venerable Pumpkin, that just means more kids, more smiles, more miles, more endless autumn afternoons, and more pie.
Lots of pumpkin pie.
AGE GROUP RESULTS
Overall Female: Marley Burns (15:07.60)
Masters Female: Ilona Jaspers (19:11.88)
8-and-under: Morgan Palmer (21:43.60)
9-10: Morgan Ribisl (19:10.59)
11-12: Mahogani Thomas (20:30.36)
13-14: Dorien Alexis (19:48.61)
15-19: Ella Brewer-Jensen (23:02.60)
20-29: Meg Van Voorhis (18:48.60)
30-39: Lesley McAdams (19:51.84)
40-49: Lisa Tarantino (20:18.60)
50-59: Robin Mullis (25:06.34)
Overall winner: Bobby Torphy (12:15.59)
Masters Male: Jim Clabuesch (14:55.85)
8-and-under: Lucas Daley (19:13.85)
9-10: Ben Hawley (18:42.87)
11-12: Neil Mosca (16:46.36)
13-14: Joshua Zawada (15:57.10)
15-19: Campbell Harvey II (17:20.11)
20-29: Kaleb Keyserling (12:45.84)
Jason Jabaut (13:31.85)
40-49: Todd Bolon (16:16.85)
50-59: Stephen Lockhart (17:39.60
60-and-Above: Jay Smith (17:12.87)