NewsLocal News


Packing pumpkins: Billings Halloween run benefits youth recreation program

102321 RACE WITCHES.jpg
102321 TWO MILE START.jpg
Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-23 20:01:32-04

BILLINGS — In a show of Halloween spirit, people dressed as ghosts, goblins and ghouls could be seen running at Riverfront Park in Billings on Saturday during the second annual Great Masked Pumpkin Race.

"The idea is that they run half the distance, they pick up their pumpkin, then they run back with it," said Suzie Eades, owner of 406 Race Series.

Eades said between 300 to 400 people ran in either a one-mile, two-mile, or three-mile race. The event is one of about five per year put on by 406 Race Series. Each race supports a different nonprofit or business in the Billings area, Eades said.

102321 TWO MILE START.jpg
People start off to run two-miles in the second annual Great Masked Pumpkin Race at Riverfront Park in Billings.

"We keep our races here local, but we bring in a lot of people from out of town and out of state that come and do our races," Eades said.

This year, the pumpkin race benefited the Billings Parks and Recreation Youth Scholarship Program, with two dollars from every race entry fee going to the scholarship, Eades said. The scholarship seeks to provide access to recreation programs for people who otherwise couldn't afford them.

"We're just really thankful that we're able to run races now this year and kind of getting back up to full capacity," Eades said.

The Great Masked Pumpkin Race is one of the more unique fun runs in Billings. Most opted to carry their pumpkin across the finish line, but some worked smarter and wheeled their pumpkin in a wagon or stroller.

102321 RACE WITCHES.jpg
Two ladies dressed as witches from the Disney film, "Hocus Pocus", cross the finish lines with their pumpkins at the second annual Great Masked Pumpkin Race in Billings.

“It doesn’t matter how they bring it back. However they haul it. Once they pick a pumpkin, that’s theirs and they can’t switch it out," Eades said.

Some of the pumpkins were marked on the bottom for its runner to receive a cash prize, Eades said. Awards were also given out for best costume in a variety of categories.

Issac Petsch, 25, of Billings, was the first to cross the finish line in the three-mile race. He said he's done some competitive running in high school and college, but nothing quite like this race.

“Picking up a pumpkin and carrying it half a mile at the end of the race was definitely a challenge I haven’t had to do before," Petsch said.

Issac Petsch (right) and his friend Cody McCombs took first and second place respectively in the Great Masked Pumpkin Race 3-mile run.

About his win, Petch tipped his magician's cap and said, "Oh, I definitely had a few tricks up my sleeve."

The effort of running with the pumpkin was worth it, though, and people got to keep their gourd.

The effort proved a struggle for Brady Ennis, 24, and Jake Vopel, 25, both of Billings. It probably didn't help that their costumes were made of thick material to make them a gorilla and a rabbit.

“Well, when you’re about done and you add a good 15 pounds to what you’ve already done just to add some pain. It was fun, fun to watch everybody else struggle," Vopel said laughing.

"Wasn’t fun. The experience was great, but the running wasn’t fun,” Ennis said with a smile.

Brady Ennis (right) and his friend Jake Vopel said conditions were sweltering inside their gorilla and rabbit costumes during their three-mile Great Masked Pumpkin Race.

To learn more about 406 Race Series and its upcoming events, visit its website by clicking here.