NEW PORT RICHEY — Morning shadows kept runners cool as they trudged through sand pits Saturday on a quest for the solar system.
The 5k run/walk and children's one-mile fun run From the Sun to Pluto was organized by Investigation Station creator Lisa Campos to raise money for a solar system exhibit that will be built along the paved trail in Starkey Wilderness Park.
"The idea is that the kids will walk from the sun to Pluto over the course a mile," Campos said. "Each stop will have a sign with an artistic rendering of the celestial body and on the opposite side will be the information about it."
Investigation Station has created a traveling museum for kids in Pasco County whose schools may not venture into cities like Tampa or St. Petersburg for museum trips. With this project, she hopes to give Starkey park something that will educate kids while they're out having fun.
"We hope that this will bring leisure education to everyone in Pasco County," she said. "It's quite a drive for a lot of people up here to go to a children's museum in one of the nearby cities, so we hope this will offer them something here."
Saturday's race course was unconventional, taking runners off the paved pathways and into wooded trails inside the 8,000 acre park. Running on different surfaces and through the elements of nature, racers were treated to a challenge as well as pretty scenery.
"The course going through the woods was not something that I expected but I thought that really made this a fun event," said David Griffin of Spring Hill. "I probably would have worn different shoes if I had known. I just found this event on a racing website and I'm glad I did because it was interesting with the surroundings."
Danny and Stephanie Cricchio brought their kids along for the voyage in a dual stroller and found the course required even more effort on their part as they pushed the stroller through soft sand and over rough patches of terrain. Danny Cricchio was exhausted but pleased by the challenge.
"This our third 5k but this one was more difficult getting the stroller through the sand," he said. "As a parent, I'm glad to see something like the space exhibit coming to the park because it adds something else for the kids to enjoy. It'll draw more people to the park."