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Costumes For A Cause

Ghouls, lace up you running shoes.

Skeletons, tune up your bikes.

Day of the Tread is back.

If you go
WHAT: Day of the Tread
WHEN: Oct. 16
WHERE: Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward NE
HOW MUCH: Early registration is available through Sept. 25 and costs $35-$55 for bike rides; $30-$65 for walks/runs; $12 for kids 1K. Late registration (for $10-$25 more in all adult events) is available through Oct. 15
MORE INFO: To learn more, go online to dayofthetread.com; sign up online at active.com and newmexicosportsonline.com

The fifth annual cycling and running event is scheduled for Oct. 16, and, as always, it will be a festive occasion.

Organizers encourage costumes and will reward the best. More than 40 musical acts – including bagpipers, jazz groups, rock bands and African drummers – are slated to provide the day’s soundtrack.

As event director Mark Gundlach says, “It’s like going to a Halloween party.”

If, of course, said Halloween party features a marathon and complimentary Gu energy gel.

The Day of the Tread atmosphere may be specifically designed for a good time, but opportunities abound for the serious athlete.

What started as a cycling-only event in 2007 has evolved. A few running events were added two years ago, a half-marathon followed in 2010, and this year marks the debut of the Day of the Tread marathon.

That means participants have a dozen different options when they sign up.

Cyclists can choose from the 12-, 26-, 54-, 80- and 100-mile rides. All are noncompetitive, and the longest three can be completed in tandem. Runners can race a timed 5- or 10-kilometer, a half or full marathon. Walkers can select a 5K or 10K option, and kids have their own 1K race.

“Ultimately, we’re just trying to make it a great fun day for everybody,” says Mark Rippberger, who coordinates Day of the Tread’s running events. “Whether you’re a walker, runner or cyclist, it’s all about the fun.”

Gundlach says combining running and cycling events on the same day is a somewhat novel concept that adds a distinct flavor to the already colorful event.

Although bikers and runners will travel on separate courses – save for one short stretch of road – everyone will gather to celebrate at the finish line at Embassy Suites.

“I think the attraction is that it’s not just a run and it’s not just a ride,” says Gundlach, general manager at Embassy Suites. “It’s an adventure.

“You’re out there with people, laughing at people who’ve dressed up. There’s a camaraderie among runners and cyclists who coexist on this day.”

And by joining forces, participants are helping two local charities. After expenses, all Day of the Tread proceeds are split between the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation and Casa Esperanza. Participants who want to do more can join a “fundraising challenge” and have their entry fees waived if they raise at least $150 by Sept. 23.

The Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation gets in on the event-day fun, too. The foundation-sponsored Zia Adaptive Cycling Team – featuring children with physical disabilities who ride adaptive bikes or hand cycles – takes part annually.

“It’s pretty incredible; last year two of the youth rode 26 miles on a bike propelled with their arms,” says Dawne Bell, the foundation’s executive director.

Gundlach says Day of the Tread impacts the community in ways beyond its charitable contributions. Kids are more likely to get involved and get active if they can dress up in costume or enjoy live music.

“Hopefully we’ll connect them to something they’ll enjoy the rest of their lives,” Gundlach says.

A joyous atmosphere has been a hallmark of Day of the Tread since its inception. Athletes stop at themed “recharge” stations along the course and are treated to live music on every route. Gundlach and Rippberger say the party-like scene has been key to the event’s success. What started in 2007 with 290 participants is expected to draw more than 3,000 this year.

“This is about the participants coming and having a great time and wanting to come back another year,” Rippberger says.

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