Highland Parks to hold 38th-annual Pumpkin Plod race

2013-11-04T22:00:00Z 2013-11-04T22:30:06Z Highland Parks to hold 38th-annual Pumpkin Plod raceJohn Burbridge, (219) 933-3371

HIGHLAND | A lot has changed at the recently renovated Lincoln Center, home of Highland Parks and Recreation. But the fieldhouse has remained in the same place.

It just doesn't seem that way.

"There's a different entrance to it," Leslye Keil said. "The way (the complex) is laid out from before kind of turns you around if you were familiar with the old place, but the fieldhouse hasn't moved.

"Though we did add some windows."

For the past 16 years, Keil has been the race director of Highland Parks' Pumpkin Plod, a road race traditionally held on Thanksgiving Day.

"There have been other Thanksgiving Day races that have cropped up over the years, but I believe we're the first in the region," Keil said of the 38th annual event. "We're two years older than the Chicago Marathon."

Like the Lincoln Center, there have been some changes to this version's Plod, to be held Nov. 28. The distance of the competitive run has been increased to an official 10K.

"The course is TAC (The Athletic Conference) certified," said Highland Parks recreation director Dave Byers. "We believe that's going to bring out more of the serious, die-hard runners."

Byers and Kiel said that last year's Plod attracted nearly 1,200 runners and walkers — the Plod also includes a non-competitive 5K walk course.

"We've had a steady increase throughout the years," said Keil, who knows of at least one runner who has competed in every race since the Plod's inception.

As tradition, the top three runners in each gender/age receive pumpkin pies.

"Ribbons will go with the pies, and this year the overall male and female finishers will receive plaques," said Keil, who added the continued success of the race is credited to the support of the community and the reliance of volunteers.

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