The 23rd annual Chigger Chase gave runners an opportunity to come together for a good cause and fantastic weather — and a first look at this year’s Festival of Lights.
Co-chair of the event, Jake Charmock, said about 300 people signed up prior to race day, with about 75 more signing up Saturday at Regional Park.
“We got Chigger and camo Yeti cups for the first, second and third place winners,” Charmock said. The event is a yearly fundraiser that benefits the Parks and Recreation Department as well as the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma.
“I’m very honored to serve alongside the Regional Park Board members,” said Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department Director Teresa Ervin. “They partner with some people, but it’s really led by them. This year has been really flawless — and you couldn’t ask for better weather for this.”
“It’s fantastic to see so many come together to help support the Shelter and participate in community fitness activities,” said Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma Executive Director Kathy Manning.
A large number of the entrants for the children’s run and the 5k run and one mile ‘fun run’/walk were with the local chapters of Girls on the Run. Erica Gay, one of the volunteer coordinators for the group, said her favorite part of the event is seeing the families who participate together. “Seeing everyone come together and make those connections they may have been lacking is wonderful,” Gay said. “Adding fitness to that is exciting.” Gay said families come from all over to participate.
Gay said the running buddies are an important part of their program.
One of those buddies, Lacy Mitchell, principal at Lincoln Elementary, has been with the program since it began in the area six years ago. “I haven’t missed a race,” Mitchell said.
Gay said buddies like Mitchell are important not only to help encourage and guide the runners, but also to keep them safe.