CARROLLWOOD – The annual Northdale 5K Pumpkin Run and Family Run/Walk weren’t supposed to be about competition – and even the kids realized it. Everyone gathered to simply have fun, no matter how they looked at the end of the day.
When the Bob Sierra YMCA Youth & Family Center held its annual run on Nov. 2, the runners and walkers ran into a problem – rain, some of the first rains the Tampa Bay area had seen in weeks. The course around the YMCA was a swamp.
And while conditions never stopped a serious runner, some of the children spent more time splashing in the mud and water. They got soaked, muddy, and had a blast – and probably more fun than the runners who took the 5K run seriously.
Nearly 500 runners showed up, and more than 100 were under the age of 12, according to Group Fitness Program Director Michelle Sussman.
“We are always trying to make this event more fun for the families,” Sussman said. “It’s about youth participation and getting the parents involved.”
One of the highlights was a 3-year-old crossing the finish line at the 1-mile mark. The event has been going on for several years, but, with the YMCA’s constant fight against childhood obesity, it took on a special meaning this year. The run included area elementary schools, run clubs, and after-school programs. Northdale Boulevard was closed for the event.
Kids weren’t required to run the entire mile. Most of them spent plenty of time walking with their parents, but that’s what the family event was all about, Sussman said.
“We want to do to get families together to help in our fight against childhood obesity,” Sussman said. “Most of the kids made it across the finish line and their parents were with them. That’s the kind of thing we are trying to do here.”
When the kids crossed the line, muddy and soaked, they received medals.
The event raised more than $6,000 for the YMCA campaign and the funds were split between the Bob Sierra YMCA and the Northdale Civic Association. The funds that went to the YMCA are to sponsor scholarships.
“There’s a lot of good that comes out of this,” Sussman said. “Anything we can do to help with childhood obesity and help the Northdale area is great. We had a great turnout and it gets bigger every year.’’