GREENWICH, Conn. – Security may have been tight for Prince Harry’s visit to the Greenwich Polo Club on Wednesday, but the atmosphere will be far different Saturday for the third annual Pineapple Classic to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The 5K obstacle race already has about 800 registered runners, and race director Dina Mariani is hopeful of a solid race day registration when it gets under way at 8:30 a.m. She said the race will have some changes this year.
“We have a few new obstacles, and the course layout is a little bit different,’’ said Mariani, who is deputy executive director of the Connecticut chapter of LLS. “We have a lot of repeat participation, so we like to keep it interesting for those that have done it in the past.”
The Hawaiian theme and obstacles have helped the Pineapple Race distinguish itself as something different than the usual road races. The atmosphere is also more casual, and many runners form teams to help drive fundraising. The agency has several other affiliates that have created similarly themed races.
“I think the theme creates a fun, non-competitive feeling,’’ Mariani said. “We have a lot of parents with children, teams with 50 or 60 people and a few who just run it as individuals. It’s a good mix.”
After drawing nearly 400 runners in its first year, there were 633 contestants in last year’s race. Runners, or their team, must carry a pineapple with them for the entire race. The runners also must navigate obstacles, such as climbing walls, hay bales, hurdles and tunnels.
Most runners come dressed in Hawaiian attire, including grass skirts, straw hats and colorful leis.
“We’re thrilled with the response,’’ Mariani said. “I think we’ve created our own identity. There are a lot of great races out there, and ours is one of the unique ones. Having a theme gets people interested in the event. We’ll get spectators who were a little intimidated by the obstacles, but when they see them they can’t wait to sign up.”
The race employs wave starts, and runners ages 8-and-up are eligible. Complete details are on the race website .
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