A military base might not seem like the perfect place for a Haunted Neon Nights Fun Run/Walk.
But it was.
About 300 kids and adults, many wearing costumes, turned out for the inaugural event at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Saturday night. The spirited group ran and walked their way through the frightening three-mile course that included ghostly images, eerie lights and neon glow paint sprayed on willing targets.
One of the first finishers was Ian Penner, a cross country runner at Island School.
“I thought it was fun and everyone should do it,” he said.
Penner said while it was a bit “spooky” racing on dark roads and trails around the base, the night run had one big advantage.
“The hardest thing about running is the heat, and there was none of that today,” he said.
There was an element of uncertainty that came with dashing in the dark, said Haku Barriga of Waimea. Because it was difficult to see in the distance, you weren’t sure what was ahead.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said.
“I stopped at least three times, thinking it was the finish,” he said.
One thing most participants did expect was fun, and that they had.
Paige Javier of Lihue and Naryln Altomare of Hanapepe dressed in colorful tutus and sported glow rings. They planned to enjoy the run and the post-race party at Shenanigans on the base that featured dinner, music, dancing and a children’s Halloween movie.
“My friend told me I should come,” Javier said, glancing at Altomare. “And my son wanted to come because it was a paint run.”
Likewise for Lisa Mayo of Kalaheo and friend Ariane Spicer, visiting from Colorado. The two were in costumes that included a pirate hat and goofy glasses.
“It’s getting us ready for Halloween,” Spicer said.
Capt. Bruce Hay, PMRF commander, finished the three-mile run, then returned to the course to cheer on other finishers coming in under the cloak of night.
He was pleased to see so many turn out for the first-time event, which gave participants the chance to see more of the military base.
“We wanted to showcase how beautiful it is out here and how much it’s like the rest of Kauai,” he said.
He noted a 5K run in July attracted 125, and said they plan to have more safe, community events. The base offers courses clear of traffic and there are no worries about cars.
“I love running in the dark,” he said.
Pete Donaher, who moved to Kauai three weeks ago from Maine, was among the top finishers, but noted he hasn’t acclimated to Kauai’s weather yet. Still, he said it was fun to run at night with a costumed crowd.
“It’s beautiful out there,” he said.