MINOOKA — After hosting 16 successful Indian Pride Track and Field Meets on the main track of Minooka Community High School, the venue changed for the first time on Tuesday.
“We’ve been talking about making little changes to things that would keep people interested,” Indian Pride event coordinator Kevin Gummerson said. “To keep them coming out and to keep it fresh. We thought it would be a good way to get out on our cross country course. It’s a great park, the park district does a great job with it. Mainly we just wanted to try something different.
“All of the coaches were sitting around and talking about it and this is what we got.”
Gummerson, with the assistance of Matt Thomas, Nick Lunden, Jessica Hopkins and Leslie Hencinski, decided to gear the last event toward cross country instead of track.
“We’re promoting both sports and running in general,” Gummerson said. “We thought this would be a great way to the end of summer and then a lead into the fall season. Cross country season is right around the corner.”
There were six events held at the Park District on Tuesday, including a one-mile run, a three-mile run and a 3x1-mile relay run; that to go along with the toddler’s -20 meter, a 55-meter hay bale run and a 200-meter hay bale run.
The key twist there being hay bales.
“That’s something they have done in a lot of European cross country meets and we though that we’d throw that in there,” Gummerson said. “Minooka alum Logan Roberts and Ken Bolte set us up with the hay bales. It’s something to mix it up, to change the regular routine of running a standard 5K. That’s why we threw the hay bales out there.”
Winner of the 1-mile run, Kevin Dockemeyer of Wilmington said he liked the added twist to the course. This in addition to liking the racing at the school track.
“I’ve been to both of them. I like it. It’’s fun,” he said. “I like the hay bales. There was two sections where you had to jump over hay bales.”
Dockemeyer won the mile race with a time of 5:07.3.
“5:07 is all right, but I’m also running the three mile later and I didn’t want to crank it up too hard,” he said.
Minooka senior cross country runner Kyle Swanson was on hand as a volunteer assistant on the day. He thinks the move of the event to the park district is a natural one.
“Our track ones are hosted at the Minooka Community High School track and this one the coaches decided to get a little cross country theme in,” he said. “There are some track races today, but it also has some cross country races in because this is our cross country course.
“I think it’s very unique how we do this. I don’t see any other towns that come to their course like this. It’s a great opportunity for the kids. I think it’s great.”
Gummerson estimated the participants at 144 on Tuesday, with people from all over making the trip to the event.
“Some of the athletes over there found out last year about it and came over here to run in the event,” Dockemeyer said. “They are the ones that drug me out here.”
Former Minooka runner Cam Knudsen said that the turnout was about what was expected.
“I think this is cool because you get everybody in the community involved,” Knudsen said. “It’s a fun time for everyone.
“Looks to me that the turnout is pretty similar and that’s good.”
Similar and good for a very good reason.
“It’s actually right in line with how the other ones have gone,” Gummerson said. “We were actually nervous with the change of venue, but it’s worked out. Word got out about it and we are happy with the turnout.”
Gummerson said that figuring out what events to hold was done in a brainstorming session of sorts.
“It was kind of just random. We wanted to do something that would get kids involved,” Gummerson said. “Nick Lunden put out a call to a lot of the alums and asked who wanted to come out and run three miles. We have a good mixture of kids coming out to run. I think there are also 30-40 alums out, and that was on two week’s notice. We created the events based on what we though the people wanted to do.”
He also said that the move from the confines of MCHS to the Channahon Park District was relatively seamless.
“We had to go through them and get everything secured through them,” Gummerson said. “The people over at the park district have been phenomenal. They do a good job of making sure that we have an environment and making sure we have a great course.”