Mario leads the troops at Spooky Sprint

Mario, otherwise known as Melissa Jorgenson, got off to a good start during the 2017 Spooky Sprint. She was followed by Kristin Geers the super hero, Tosha Garner the cat, and Bruce Mumford, a union soldier.

Hutchinson has been on the run for the past 10 years, but it hasn’t been as scary as you might think.

Each October, hundreds of people pack downtown dressed in colorful or creative Halloween costumes to join the Spooky Sprint and support Hutchinson High School’s REACH program. Registration is open and the early bird deadline is this Sunday.

“This is our fundraiser that has seen close to 5,000 runners participate, $68,978.57 raised, and most importantly, 29 REACH students given an opportunity to pursue their dreams through receiving a REACH Gives Scholarship furthering their education,” said REACH director Chad Harlander.

REACH — which represents relationships, education, accountability, character and hard work — was formed at Hutchinson High School to offer students emotional and social support. REACH students volunteer at the event, and then seek to give back with volunteer projects and other events such as an annual outreach dinner in December.

The Spooky Sprint started 10 years ago when Jason and Leah Werowinski approached Harlander in search of a cause to support that would come with a team of diligent volunteers to keep it going.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating the 10th year and all that has been done with the support of our community,” Jason said. “The event has become a showcase of our community. We get such great support from runners and walkers, as well as local businesses that come out to have this community event that also supports a great program at the high school.”

Spooky Sprint participants are encouraged but not required to dress up for the runs, which start at 9:15 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, at Library Square. Race day packet pick-up starts at 8 a.m. In addition to the 5k — which extends east to Adams Street, up to the Luce Line State Trail, west around the Gopher Campfire Wildlife Sanctuary and back — there is also a half-mile dash. Registration is $12 for the kids dash and $35 for the 5k — or $10 and $25, respectively, until Sept. 15. To register, visit spookysprint.org.

This year, organizers hope to raise $15,000, nearly $2,500 more than the top year, which was 2015 when $12,489 was raised. In the race’s first year, it attracted 187 runners, and since then it has floated around 500 annually, with 708 in 2015. Jason said the event likely can’t take on too many more runners than it has in the past due to size constraints, but organizers hope to find more sponsors and plan to sell merchandise at the event.

“It’s amazing we hit this 10-year mark,” Jason said. “At first we weren’t even sure it would be supported. To grow and grow has been amazing. “

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