By Rhiannon Saegert
The annual Chigger Chase is still about a month away, but registration is underway.
The holiday run is set for November 18 in Ardmore Regional Park. Runners can register early for a discount until October 28. The last day to register online is November 14, but runners can still register on site until 3:30 p.m. the day of.  
1st National Bank Senior Vice President Bob Bates, Vice President Jake Charnock and Citizens Bank Vice President Nancy Sjulin serve on the race committee that organizes the chase every year. Bates said he’s been involved with the event since he moved to Ardmore in 1996, nearly since the beginning.
“It’s grown considerably, and it also serves as the opening for the Festival of Lights,” Bates said. “And when you run the race, by the end, it’s starting to get dark and the lights are on.”
The Chigger Chase is a principal fundraiser for the Ardmore Parks Department, and now serves as a fundraiser for the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma as well.
“It’s 50/50, we split it right down the middle,” Bates said. “We’ve averaged about $20 thousand for the last few years.”
Events start a 4 p.m. with a 1/4 mile race for children 6 and younger and a 1/2 mile and 1 mile race for children from 7 to 12 years old.
“For the most part, those have been part of the program since the beginning,” Bates said. “They also get to race against the big chigger.”
The children’s runs will be followed by a 1 mile walk at 5 p.m., then the 5K run and Chigger Challenge. This year will also introduce a new 5-mile trail run that starts on the main paved trails, continues through the park’s gravel-paved trail system and then leads back to the starting point.
“We’ve been talking about adding it for about a year,” Bates said. “There’s a lot of folks who enjoy that sort of thing and we think it should be fun.”
Despite the itch-inducing name of the race, Bates said bugs shouldn’t be an issue during the event.
“All of the races are on paved surfaces and because it’s late November we’re way past mosquitos, chiggers and even red ants at that point,” Bates said.
Bates also said water will be available on site, but participants should remember to stay hydrated while running.