Runners find fun time at Great Pumpkin Race

Event benefits Catholic school

November 6, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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Joseph Harmanos, 14, of Zelienople crosses the finish line Oct. 27 in the 5K run at the 10th annual Great Pumpkin Race in Zelienople.

ZELIENOPLE — While Dracula wasn't there to perform the Transylvania Twist, it was a monster mash in the borough at the 10th annual Great Pumpkin Race on Oct. 27.

Runners — including Snoopy, Waldo and Frankenstein's monster — came to St. Gregory Catholic School from Zelienople and beyond to trot in the one-mile fun run and 5K race, eat pizza and converse with other community members. The top runners won pies — the race's appropriate flavor, pumpkin, of course.

One of the biggest draws to the event is that it helps raise funds for St. Gregory's Parent-Teacher Organization and athletic programs.

Josh Brunner of New Sewickley Township, Beaver County, said this was his second year in attendance, adding he joins to help support the school.

“If I could do it without running, I would,” Brunner said.

More still enjoyed the community atmosphere of the race.

“This is always a great time to come out and have fun,” said Matthew Sauers, an Evans City resident and assistant coach for St. Gregory's cross-country team.

Mark Harmonos, the St. Gregory's cross-country team's head coach, agreed that the fundraising is a side benefit. The main reason, he says, for the event is bringing Zelienople together.

From left, Owen, Mike, Christine and Kendal FitzGerald are ready to tackle the one-mile fun run Oct. 27 at the 10th annual Great Pumpkin Run in Zelienople.

Harmonos, who runs the Great Pumpkin Race along with his wife, Jennifer, said borough residents who attend give the event a unique charm.

“We all get together (and) it's a fun afternoon,” he said. “What we really love about it is the community feel.”

He said charm is an overarching theme of Zelienople, adding he thinks it's hard to drive down Main Street and not fall in love with the town. Showcasing the borough to out-of-towners is yet another reason Harmonos likes the race.

There was certainly no shortage of people from outside Zelienople, with visitors driving from places as close as Harmony and as far away as Mercer and New Castle.

People from out-of-town came for myriad reasons, but most often they were simply looking for a place to run.

“I love to run,” said Annie Policella, 11, of Cranberry Township. “It's a lot of fun, and it feels good when you finish.”

Annie said it was her first time at the race, but Harmonos said the race is made up mostly of repeat visitors, such as Mike and Christine FitzGerald, who attended for their fifth time Sunday.

But even if a runner was drawn by the rare October 5K, they, like Andrew Kraus of Mercer, got hooked by either the run's mission or community feel.

“I used to teach for a Catholic school and I know how they can't give a lot of funding toward athletics,” Kraus said.

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Alex Weidenhof

Alex Weidenhof