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Pineapple Runners Tackle Obstacles in Greenwich

GREENWICH, Conn. – Pineapples, not ponies, took center stage Saturday at the Greenwich Polo Club in the Pineapple Classic 5K With Obstacles.

More than 500 runners of all ages and abilities attempted to complete the 5k course. Teams had to complete the course carrying a pineapple. There were some individual runners as well. Teams had as few as two runners and had to navigate obstacles that included 6- and 8-foot climbing walls, hay bales, hurdles and tunnels. There even was a three-legged challenge.

The second-year race was sponsored by the Connecticut chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society . Dina Mariani, the deputy executive director, said registration increased by more than 200 from last year’s event.

“It was hard running with a pineapple,’’ said Keith White of Woodbridge, who owns a running store in Westport. “You forget how important the arms are when you’re running.”

White was one of the few runners who competed as an individual. Suzanne Gaddis of Levittown, N.Y., also ran as an individual and had an emotional attachment as well. The race fell one year to the day that her sister, Marianne, underwent a final treatment for cancer. Her sister was planning to walk the course afterwards.

“Those obstacles really slow you up,’’ Gaddis said. “I needed some help with the first climbing wall. After that, I got the hang of it.”

“We wanted to something to celebrate that it has been one year,’’ Gaddis added. “I was saying to my sister next time we should get a team together. This isn’t a race where you’re running for time. It was good.”

The pineapple was part of the Hawaiian theme for the race. Many participants wore grass skirts, colorful leis and enjoyed a luau at the finish. Pariticipants could go at their own pace. More serious athletes started first, followed by slower runners, walkers and finally, families. The mood was more festive than competitive. There also was a sense of remembrance as many participants, like Gaddis, joined the cause to support a family member who is battling or has battled cancer.

One of those groups included a team of young soccer players from Fairfield County who were supporting a teammate who is battling cancer. Westport’s Lauren Garcia, Wilton’s Kayla O’Brien, Easton’s Kerri Eden and Redding’s Chelsea Cutler all play for a 15-and-under soccer team based in Meriden. They were joined by Wilton’s Erin Cunningham, who doesn’t play soccer but ran with her friends.

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