Nearly 100 Prairie Run participants ran up and over rolling hills and along groundwater-fed ponds – experiencing up close the autumn beauty of the Pioneers Park Nature Center’s tallgrass prairie.

All $1,690 in proceeds from the Nov. 4 event will go toward the 400-acre prairie’s care and management.

“The prescribed burns, scheduled grazing of bison and cattle, and invasive species removal on the prairie provide a rich habitat filled with native grasses, wildflowers, insects, birds, mammals and other wildlife,” said Jamie Kelley, naturalist and event coordinator from the Nature Center.

Runners enjoyed the prairie and the crisp, 40-degree autumn morning.

“The course was hard with a lot of hills, but I liked being surrounded by nature,” said Gavin Skorupa, who won the 5K race for the second consecutive year, this time in 17:15. “It was a great atmosphere to run in. I’ll keep doing the Prairie Run as long as they offer it.”

The Lincoln Pius X sophomore, who finished 13th in Class A at the Oct. 20 state cross-country meet in Kearney, said he continued the same daily workouts he did at Pius to prepare for the race. He led the 5K all the way.

The Prairie Run also included a 1-mile option for ages 12 and under. Several parents ran the course with their children, and Christopher Holloway, a 7-year-old Morley Elementary School second-grader, finished first in 8:40.

“He’s just a smidgen competitive,” said Christopher’s proud mom, Patti Holloway, who added that Christopher also ran the Pumpkin Run and Mayor’s Run this year and enjoys playing all sports.

Care and management of the Pioneers Park Nature Center’s tallgrass prairie will include two prairie burns this winter or spring, Kelley said. The controlled fires increase plant diversity, control invasive species and encourage new growth of native species on the prairie.

Nature Center staff and volunteers will help with three additional burns of greenways managed by the City of Lincoln as part of the 7-mile Haines Branch Prairie Corridor project, Kelley added. The ongoing project, being built with land purchases and easements, will eventually connect the Pioneers Park prairie in Lincoln with Spring Creek Prairie south of Denton, Nebraska.

Ten local businesses and organizations contributed prizes for a drawing after the 5K. Walmart provided post-race refreshments.

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