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Lethbridge annual Run for the Pumpkin holds in-person event while most races go virtual

Connor and Hannah Bastian were two of 293 runners who took part in the 2020 Run for the Pumpkin race in Lethbridge.
Connor and Hannah Bastian were two of 293 runners who took part in the 2020 Run for the Pumpkin race in Lethbridge. Eloise Therien / Global News

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a wide variety of group-oriented events. Most recently in Lethbridge, the Terry Fox Run was held virtually on September 20, meaning participants would embark on their routes individually. Between October 1-9, the Lethbridge Police Service is also hosting its Police Run virtually.

However, Runner’s Soul was able to work with public health authorities to figure out a way to hold the annual ‘Run for the Pumpkin’ race in person this year.

By holding heats every half hour, the event took place nearly all day Saturday. Runners approached the start line in groups of 30, wearing masks. They were then called up two at a time, standing six feet apart after removing their face covering, and were sent off every ten seconds.

Read more: Lethbridge high school teacher runs first-ever marathon for Terry Fox Foundation

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During its 33-year history in Lethbridge, the race has attracted many participants eager for a family activity. This year, 293 people participated.

“We’ve had as low as 60, and up to 700,” race director Bruce Stewart said. “This is actually really good, all things considered.”

Normally, the chip-timed event would serve as a fundraiser for local school cross country programs, but took a step back this year to return to its roots.

“This year, since none of (the cross country programs) are currently running, we’ve had some sponsors step up to be able to decrease the cost for individuals,” Stewart explained. “That was the original thought when we started it back in 1988, was a low-cost race for community members so they don’t have to go out of Calgary to be able to do it.”

Read more: Hamilton’s postponed Around the Bay Race now cancelled due to COVID-19

When the two-km jaunt around Nicholas Sheran Park came to an end, each runner would sanitize and pick out their own pumpkin to take home.

The younger population seemed glad to have the opportunity to enjoy some fresh air and exercise.

“It was a little bit longer than I expected, but it was fun,” said 11-year-old Hannah Bastian, who ran the race with her brother Connor. “It was fun running a little bit with Connor, and right beside the lake because I got to see all of the birds and stuff in the water.”

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Reggie Williams took the top spot of the day, coming in at 05:56.18, followed by Owen Stewart at 06:02.96, and Cooper Williams at 06:07.65.

Full results of the race can be found here.