Saturday's Daikin Dash is believed to be the first organized in-person running event in Owatonna since last fall's Spirit Run. Regular events such as From the Heart, the Steele County Fair/Rotary Club's STRIVE run, and the Knights of Columbus Smokin' in Steele 5K were all canceled due to the pandemic. Several runners I spoke to were excited to participate in-person.

The Dash raises money in support of the Steele County Relay for Life cancer research and support benefit. The Relay was switched from a walking event to a car cruise through downtown Owatonna, also held on Saturday. The Steele County Relay was changed from a summer event to a fall activity long before coronavirus concerns. That change was due to the extremely hot  and stormy weather that plagued the Relay several consecutive years.

The number of runners for the Daikin Dash seemed smaller than in 2019, but there was nice enthusiasm for the event even though some different restrictions and physical distancing were encouraged. Runners, volunteers and other were advised to wear masks if within six feet of another person. Runners mostly started with masks on, but slid them off after crossing the start line with distancing taking care of itself in the small field.

Participants of all ages took part. A 78-year-old woman power-walked her way to a nice finish. I spoke with a 57-year-old man who was running his first-ever organized 5K. My friend Rachel has run several virtual events and was "thrilled" when she learned the Daikin Dash would still be held.

She is also a regular participant in the Turkey Trot in Faribault each Thanksgiving that raises money for Infants Remembered in Silence. That large event is still on for in-person running this year. At least for now.

Saturday also featured the Eagles car show that raises money for the annual cancer auction put on by the Eagles. Southside Speed Shop helped sponsor that gathering.


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