Pumpkin Plod updated for 2020 precautions


Photo courtesy of Highland Parks and Recreation.Updated course map from the 2020 Pumpkin Plod.

Breanna Burbridge, Social Media Editor

Thanksgiving is a holiday like no other. One that allows Americans to enjoy a full feast, watch football, and celebrate what they are thankful for. For people of Highland, it’s a time to bond with family, and what better way to do that than to sweat it out in a Thanksgiving day race.

The Pumpkin Plod is an annual race where participants can sign up for either the 5k or 10k and have the option of walking or running.

Dave Byers, recreation director for the Highland Parks and Recreation Department, said, “What I keep hearing year after year from people who participate is that it’s the one event families look forward to every year because kids that are away at college or just family that they don’t normally see get together and use it as a time to reconnect and celebrate the holiday weekend. They’ll come out and burn some calories and then go home and cook and eat with their families. It’s tradition in town.”

Natalie Fitt, grade 11, said, “My motivation is just knowing it’s a nice bonding (time) for my brother and me.. We don’t want to win. We do it for fun each year.”

The start time for runners is spread out this year. There are six ten- minute windows. Runners can pick a time between 8 and 9 a.m., with a 100 person cap on each window. The Highland Parks and Recreation Department requests that runners don’t show up until 10 minutes before their designated start time.

The Pumpkin Plod will not be doing a timed 5k this year. Byers said, “A participant will wake up the morning of and say, ‘I’m not feeling like a 10k today. I’m just going to run the 5k.’ Well, they registered for the 10k, and it messes up all their results. This will be a lot easier, just timing the 10k, like we did previously in 2018.”

The 10k is starting at the normal start line on Kennedy Avenue and the 5k is starting off of Jewett Street.

“The 5k runners can spread out east to west on Highway Avenue. The police will have that blocked off,” Byers said. Volunteers from the Highland Key Club will be telling people to spread out or put on their masks, as well as taking care of the water stops.

“Water stops,” Byer said, “we had to adjust just a little bit. We’re going to have more tables spread out. We will have volunteers actually out there handing them out. I’ll instruct Key Club on how to hand them out from the bottom so that people can just grab as they go and don’t have to make contact.”

Lucas Guerra, an experienced cross country runner for HHS, will be participating this year along with the rest of the cross country team. Guerra is coming to compete.

“Yes, it is my goal to win. I want to have a competitive race with my friends and teammates to see who can run the fastest time,” he said.

The pumpkin pie awards will also be a little different this year. Byers said, “With this being from 8 to 9 (a.m.), I don’t want people who finish at 8 having to wait around an extra hour to see if they won a pie.”

Instead, Byers said,   a coupon for a Strack & Van Til pumpkin pie with a ribbon will be mailed to winners on the Monday following the race.

The annual race typically  attracts around 1200 walkers and runners, but Byers said it’s hard to estimate the turn out this year, due to COVID-19.  He is predicting that there will be about 80% of their usual total.

“We are at 249 total so far, and of that, we have 145 10k runners and 93 walkers.”

Shirt and bib pick-up for all participants will take place in the Lincoln Center field house on Wednesday, November 25th, 2pm to 9:45pm and  on race day from 6:30-8 a.m.