Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Great Pumpkin Run Cincinnati

Pile of Pumpkins! Photos by OHventures

One of the most awkward things I have ever done is run a 5K with an 8 pound pumpkin.

I experienced this on October 31 (Halloween!) when taking part in The Great Pumpkin Run in Cincinnati (another one took part in Hartville, near Canton). This is a running series that challenges you to tackle trails and conquer corn mazes each fall on various farms around the country. 

By paying an extra fee, participants can choose to run while carrying a pumpkin in what is known as the "Tough Pumpkin." If you complete the course with the gourd in tact, you will receive an extra special "Tough Pumpkin" medal in addition to the Great Pumpkin Run medal. Double the bling? Sign me up!

Folks kept asking why on earth I would choose the Tough Pumpkin option. I have a history of doing crazy stunts (jumping in freezing cold water, sprinting up skyscraper stairwells, and getting electroshocks in the Tough Mudder, to name a few). Aside from the extra medal as an incentive, I view the Tough Pumpkin as a fun way to challenge myself and (pumpkin) spice up my typical 5K run!


My friend Matt (of Ohio State 4 Miler and Ultimate Beer Fest fame) and I drove on down to Bonnybrook Farms - the setting for The Great Pumpkin Run Cincinnati. We came to find that Bonnybrook was technically located in the city of Clarksville in Clinton County, which is about 40 miles north of downtown Cincinnati. Apparently, race organizers billed the event as "Cincinnati" since it was the closest metropolis around (a bit misleading, but that's OK).


We arrived at the farms and went straight to the giant pile of pumpkins to pick our poison for the race. I strategically chose a pumpkin that had an extra long stem so that it might serve as a handle as I ran with it. We weighed our pumpkins on the nearby scale - Matt's was 10 pounds on the dot, and mine was 7.3 pounds. It was a chilly and cloudy day, so we huddled in the barn and by the nearby campfire for warmth before our 10:00 AM wave.


When the race began, Matt and I soon learned firsthand about the awkwardness I described above. There was no easy way to carry our pumpkins as we ran! We tried doing it with one hand, with two hands, on our shoulders, cradled in our arms, at our side, against our chest, and every which way you can imagine. The easiest way for me, I discovered, was carrying it by the stem, alternating from hand to hand every so often. You can see my technique above.


Our minds were taken off of the pumpkins, however, when we approached the giant corn maze at the final mile of the course. Running among the cornstalks provided an awesome vantage point that was the epitome of autumn! There were so many surprising twists and turns, and the only way I knew which way was which was due to the finish line music I could hear in the distance!

Soon, after navigating through the maze (there were signs telling you which way to turn), the finish line was in sight! I completed the run in just over 31 minutes, which is far longer than my typical 5K run. That pumpkin definitely slowed us down - and we definitely earned those two medals!

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