All those in Hernando County should anticipate the thrills and chills this Halloween as The Neff Lake Monster arises from Spring Lake--and from quarantine! And it's all for a good cause.
The 14th annual Spring Lake Memorial Classic will be celebrated the morning of Saturday, October 31, in Brooksville. As always, the two-mile, 5K and 10K race events will benefit The Arc Nature Coast, which provides essential services and supports for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities in our community; and in a new development this year, the fund-raiser also will be offered in a virtual format.
"It was originally called the Spring Lake 5K and 2 Mile Fun Run/Walk, but it’s always been dubbed as Florida’s toughest, most scenic racecourse. We changed the name of the event to the Spring Lake Memorial Classic 2 years ago when we added a 10K to the event. So, now the race includes a 2 Mile, 5K and10K," explained Nancy Stubbs, Development Director of The Arc Nature Coast and Race Director. "When we added the 10K, we knew it was a monster of a race, so we promised a glimpse of the Neff Lake Monster for those participating in the 10K. The hills are very challenging and can be a monstrous task to conquer. However, there IS a Neff Lake Monster!"
Yet even fantastical beasts must bend and conform to real-world issues and challenges.
"The race has been held each past year the Saturday before Memorial Day-- in May," said Stubbs. "The Neff Lake Monster was forced into quarantine this year when COVID hit. He’s been in hiding since. We decided that since Halloween is on a Saturday this year and since the Neff Lake Monster is itching to get out of hiding, we thought that Halloween morning would be a fitting time to bring him out and have the run."
Yet while the race remains a challenging one, it also will be an event at which all CDC guidelines are followed and those attending in person will be required to wear face coverings before and after the event, as well as keep a 6' distance at the starting line. And while masks are required, Halloween costumes are welcome. Awards and small snack bags will be presented after the in-person race.
"Since The Arc Nature Coast relies on community support, outdoor activities are encouraged and are a healthy way to support non-profits, we decided to have the event, even though it could not be held on Memorial Day weekend.
In years past, we’ve had 300 participants," explained Stubbs. "We know that some people want to support us and enjoy running, but may not feel completely comfortable attending an event in person, so we decided to offer a virtual option as well. That way, they can do their own run/walk and still support our organization."
Indeed, one can participate in this year's Spring Lake Memorial Classic without lifting afoot.
"There is also an option for those who can’t participate in person or don’t have time for the virtual option to simply go online and make a contribution," said Stubbs. "Last year, we netted a little over $11,000."
"We also garner support from sponsors, which are what truly help to make this event a successful fundraiser," she added. "We are extremely appreciative of their support!"
And it's for a good cause.
"Funds raised go towards supporting the approximately 300 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families served by The Arc Nature Coast," said Stubbs. "The Arc Nature Coast provides life skills development, enrichment, transportation, employment, residential, as well as advocacy services for individuals in Hernando and Pasco Counties."
For additional information about the Spring Lake Memorial Classic, including run times and registration fees, contact Nancy Stubbs, Race Director, at [email protected] or call (352) 544- 2322 x 0694 or call direct (727) 619-0694, or write www.tancinc.org.
Register for the race at https://runsignup.com and search “Spring Lake Memorial Classic” in the right hand “find a race” search bar.
Learn more about The Arc Nature Coast and its programs at http://www.thearc-naturecoast.org/home0.aspx.
"We hope you are all safe and healthy," reads an event notice, "and we look forward to seeing you Halloween morning."