Runners in Cupid’s Chase could feel the love Saturday, even if they couldn’t feel their toes. Cupid Valentino made sure of that.
On a frigid morning better suited to bobsledding or curling, more than 100 runners and walkers turned out at the Lovers Lane Soccer Complex for the sixth annual 5-kilometer event to benefit Community Options of Bowling Green.
That met the goal set by Community Options, which provides residential and employment services to some 30 local people with disabilities.
“The turnout was great,” said Tabitha Tittle, coordinator of program services for the Bowling Green Community Options office. “We were hoping for 100 runners, and we had about 106. It was very chilly, so we definitely appreciate people coming out.”
Many of the runners who came out on a day when the temperature was 23 degrees at start time were there because of that Cupid Valentino character, who goes by the name of Harlan Holmes when he isn’t dressing in costume for 5K events.
Most of the runners were dressed in layers, but not Holmes, a 32-year-old Bowling Green resident who was toting a Cupid-esque toy bow.
A regular at local road races, Holmes showed up Saturday carrying a red rose and dressed in red shorts, red shoes and red socks, with nothing on his torso but a pair of Cupid-like wings.
It was Holmes’ first Cupid’s Chase, which was held Saturday in conjunction with 5Ks benefiting more than 40 Community Options offices in 11 states on the 30th anniversary of the nonprofit.
“They do advocacy and support for people with disabilities, so I figured it was a wonderful cause,” Holmes said. “Plus, I like any excuse to wear a costume.”
Holmes’ enthusiasm for the event brought out others who were part of the Team Cupid that he formed. Some, like Amy Parker, even donned costumes of their own.
“Harlan started Team Cupid, and we thought it would be fun to dress up together,” said Parker, an active duty National Guard member who was sporting red-tinted glasses and wearing a red skirt over her black tights and long-sleeved shirt. “Harlan has been inspiring to a lot of runners.”
Like Holmes, Parker said the opportunity to support a good cause brought her out on a day when the course included a few frozen puddles.
“If I do a 5K, I like to do those that support a good cause,” she said.
Holmes, who dressed as Hulk Hogan and won last fall’s Superhero 5K to benefit Bowling Green’s Court Appointed Special Advocates, said local runners are always quick to support worthy causes.
“We have a very generous and compassionate running community,” he said. “It’s great to be a part of it.”
Despite the handicap of wearing wings that weren’t particularly aerodynamic, Holmes finished fourth in Saturday’s race.
The winner, 23-year-old Jonah Strauel of Casey County, said: “It was so cold it was hard to breathe. The 5K is not my favorite distance. I like the longer races, but it’s always nice to run for a good cause.”
Top female finisher Shanda Blair could feel the cold through her shoes, but she said: “I love running races that are for good causes. This is a great event. It’s just not that well-known.”
Tittle said this was the second time the race had been held at the soccer complex after four years at Kereiakes Park. With pre-registration costing $35 and race-day registration costing $40, it is the nonprofit’s biggest fundraiser of the year.