Runners in the South Elgin Harvest Hustle were met with a cool, sunny Saturday morning and then hot chocolate and doughnuts, all while supporting youth scholarships and a new playground project.
Twelve-year-old twins Haley and Emily Gallagher of South Elgin said they were happy after running their first 7K race. The eighth annual event consisted of a challenging but scenic 7K run and a 2-mile walk along the Fox River Trail. It was hosted by the South Elgin Parks and Recreation FUNdation and the village of South Elgin.
Haley and Emily ran as a group with two girlfriends from Kenyon Woods Middle School, and they made it to the finish line in about 55 minutes.
"I was so tired. My legs hurt; they felt like jelly," Haley said.
"It felt good when we finished. Everyone was clapping," Emily added.
Their mother, Lori Gallagher, had assumed it would take the twins take at least an hour to complete the race, so she arrived too late to see them cross the finish line. "They really surprised me. They ran past some of our adult neighbors and friends," she said.
About 200 runners and 80 walkers took part in the event, which this year was divided into three age groups instead of two categories for children and adults as in past years, said Kim Wascher, South Elgin Parks and Recreation superintendent. The event was a fundraiser for the FUNdation's youth scholarship fund and the Seba Park playground project. The playground will serve both able-bodied and disabled children and will cost about $1.3 million, Wascher said. "We're hoping to break ground in 2013," she said.
The Harvest Hustle was followed by South Elgin's annual Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival, which included a community garage sale. All the pumpkins for sale were grown locally, Wascher said.
"We had a really great crop this year with the dryness. Even our little gourds -- it was a very successful year," she said.
Jessica Gablin of South Elgin checked out the festival with her 3-year-old son, Brody. Her family moved to South Elgin three years ago and the festival has become a yearly tradition, Gablin said.
"It's fun for the kids, playing, going to the petting zoo, climbing the hay. It's a nice little Saturday morning activity," she said.