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(Left to right) Katie Gilkey, James Stanley, Bill Gilkey, K.J. Tracy and Shelley Kemper pose for a picture after their team finished ninth out of 23 adult teams in the Dirty Pumpkin Run on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Their team also came in first in the costume contest.

Obstacle course brings many together in support of high school student with cancer

People of all ages raced through Libby’s Pumpkin Patch, 41251 State Farm Road, on Saturday, rushing to get to the finish line first.

This is the first year Libby’s Pumpkin Patch has held The Dirty Pumpkin Run, a five-person team obstacle course. The obstacle course included massive wooden skis, giant hay bales and tractor tire pulling. 

All five team members start the course at the beginning of the pumpkin patch, which used to be home to a copious number of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. The teams then ran through the obstacles as quickly as possible, all while having to carry a pumpkin with them. 

“It was so much fun,” Julie Owens, a member of the team Squad Ghouls, said. “I liked all the hay bales.”

All the money raised at the event benefited Bryana Wallace, a student at Alexander High School who is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. With nearly 40 teams that registered for the Dirty Pumpkin Run, the event was a big hit with the locals and offered Wallace the support she needed. 

The air was full of encouraging screams from spectators and a variety of music by DJ Enforcer, Jimmy Childs, the D.A.R.E. officer at the Athens County Sheriff’s Office. The event was executed completely through the help of volunteers. 

“We have a huge list of people to thank,” Rachel Lewis, owner of Libby’s Pumpkin Patch, said. “I would hate to start naming names because there have been so many people to volunteer. I don’t want to forget anyone.”

The Dirty Pumpkin Run was inclusive of all ages, from children to seniors. Libby’s Pumpkin Patch made sure the event was fun and entertaining for everyone there. 

“I wanted to make it fun for everybody,” Lewis said. “We didn’t want it to be all about speed and athleticism.”

For this reason, Lewis created the Best Team Outfit award, which encouraged participants to show up in their most creative attire. From jack-o’-lantern costumes to head-to-toe Smurf costumes, everyone was decked out in their best attire.

“I like just watching the different age groups, from the youngest to the oldest, and looking at their costumes,” Steven Mitchell, a spectator, said. “The Smurfs were probably the best.”

“Best attire” did not only refer to costumes, though. When teams registered, they gave a team name. Participants made shirts and other gear with their team name and put fun artwork on them. 

Teams were not separated by age, either. One team, the Sole Sisters, included Summer Whiting and Andrea Bobo and their daughters. They all wore the same gray long-sleeved shirts with a “Sole Sisters” logo on it. 

“We brought our girls,” Whiting said. “It was a great mother-daughter event for us.”

The entire obstacle course took place outdoors, taking participants all over the farm. Inside the barn, however, was warmth and food that welcomed exhausted runners. Some of the food options that were available for purchase included Larry’s Dawg House, Wendy’s, Texas Roadhouse and Kiser’s Barbeque. 

Perhaps the only thing more entertaining at the event than watching the teams run through difficult obstacles in silly costumes was the giant potbelly pig. The youngest spectators loved the pig and followed it around in an effort to befriend it. 

The success of the Dirty Pumpkin Run may result in it becoming an annual event or inspire more events like it to happen. 

“It’s been really fun to plan it,” Lewis said. “We may do something similar next year.”


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