Brad Williams could be considered the Cal Ripken Jr. of the Grandview Great Pumpkin Run 5K.

He has participated in every running of the race, and neither rain, snow nor throbbing toothache has kept him from completing the event's appointed route.

"One year I had oral surgery and the doctor told me I shouldn't do anything too strenuous for awhile," Williams said. "So I still took part in the race, but that year I walked it instead of running.

"I've run the race when we've had the blazing heat of summer, I've run it when we had cold rain and I've run it when we had big flakes of snow falling," he said. "That's part of the challenge. You never know the weather conditions are going to be."

Williams, 63, plans to be at the starting line again Saturday, Oct. 27, for the 40th annual race.

The event first was held in 1979, around the same time Williams became interested in running as a way to stay fit.

"I didn't start to run to stay in shape until I was an adult," he said. "Then I became a big runner. When I found out the city was going to hold the Pumpkin Run, (I said) 'sign me up.' "

After someone mentioned to him after the 10th Pumpkin Run that he had participated in every one, "it became a matter of, 'I have to do this,' " Williams said.

"I didn't want to break the streak and now it's up to 40 years, and I still don't want to break the streak," he said. "I decided I'm going to be out there no matter what."

His approach to the race as changed as he's gotten older, he said.

"For a long time, I ran trying to improve my time each year," Williams said. "I really concentrated on that.

"Now, I'm just trying to finish the race, whether it's by running or walking," he said.

Williams lived in Grandview from 1968 until about five years ago, when he moved to northwest Columbus.

"I enjoy the people who show up dressed in Halloween costumes, and I run into so many Grandview people that I get to see once a year at the race," he said. "You can almost run from one end of Grandview to the other along the route."

Most race participants are from Grandview, Upper Arlington or northwest Columbus, but the race draws runners from various central Ohio communities and even people from out of state, said Marta Durban, who as the city's senior recreation supervisor has helped coordinate the race for the past 20 years.

"I think the race is so popular because Grandview and Marble Cliff offer such a beautiful setting for a 5K race," she said. "We also provide a safe, secure route for people because we clear the streets of cars and have volunteer race marshals on every corner."

Social media helps spread the word about 5K races such as the Pumpkin Run, Durban said.

"There are people who are avid runners, and they track where races are going to be held," she said.

Last year, about 600 participated in the race, Durban said, some dressed in Halloween costumes as is tradition.

"What I love to see is that there will be families running together," she said. "Mom or Dad are running and their kids are running with them."

The Tiny Tot Pumpkin Trot held just before the main race allows younger children to feel a part of the event, Durban said.

The trot is a sprint for children ages 6 and younger down Oakland Avenue to the finish line.

The run will begin at 9 a.m. Oct. 27.

Participants can register between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. the day of the race in the gym at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, 1240 Oakland Ave., or in advice at speedy-feet.com.

The fee is $20 in advance, $25 on race day.

The first 500 registrants receive T-shirts, and awards are given to the top 10 male and female finishers and the top three finishers in various age categories.

The Tiny Tot Pumpkin Trot begins at 8:30 a.m. Youngsters can register beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Edison/Larson gym. There is no fee, and the first 50 registrants will receive a free T-shirt.

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