NORTH MANKATO — The Minnesota State University students had been planning their 5K Bunny Run and Easter Egg Scramble for months, knowing that the traditional Easter Saturday event was going to be especially early on the calendar and particularly vulnerable to the ugly weather that Minnesota often offers in late March.
So what was MSU senior Kayla Altman’s reaction to the hail that fell around 7:15 a.m. Saturday as organizers were setting up at Dakota Meadows Middle School, to the light rain that greeted runners for the 9 a.m. race, to the soggy, muddy field where the tikes were scrambling for plastic eggs?
A huge smile.
“I’m glad it was a bad weather day so I know how to prepare for that,” said Altman, who will get her degree in recreation, parks and leisure services in five weeks.
Planning events like Saturday’s is what Altman wants to do for a living, so there would have been much less to learn if there hadn’t been adversity. And it made it easy for Altman and her classmates to smile by late morning considering that the four-year-old event had its biggest ever turnout of runners (nearly 400); that the paths from Dakota Meadows through Benson Park were clear of ice; that hundreds of people, including scores of kids, were leaving with chilly smiles and heavy Easter baskets; and that $2,000 (also the most ever) had been raised for Leisure Education for Exceptional People.
“This will definitely be in my portfolio,” Altman said. “I think it went great.”
Once again, Scheel’s was the major sponsor, and Scheel’s events coordinator Lori Benike seemed almost as pleased as Altman as she watched the largely happy crowd milling around under the gray sky.
“Obviously a pretty darn good turnout,” Benike said, noting that low expectations weatherwise come with an Easter-timed event. “We’ve never had a sunny year. It has been raining every year.”