Nature center revives fall 8K run for partial eclipse

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Friends group plans fundraising event for Oct.14 morning

Grass, gravel and paved trails at Austin’s Jay C. Hormel Nature Center will host runners once again this fall with the return of an 8K race on the morning of an October partial solar eclipse.

On Oct. 14, the Friends of the Hormel Nature Center will offer the “Eclipse the Nature Center” 8K run – about 5 miles – along with a free, 1-mile “fun run” for all ages. The 8K will start at 10 a.m. followed at 10:15 a.m. by the 1-mile run.

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A partial solar eclipse – in which the moon blocks part of the sun – will begin around 10:30 a.m., with its peak blocking of the sun expected at 11:48 a.m. All racing on the trails should be done in time for the eclipse’s peak.

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“The Friends are excited to bring back the fall 8K run, especially with it happening during a partial solar eclipse,” said Tim Ruzek, chair of the Friends of the Hormel Nature Center. “This should be a lot of fun while also raising awareness and funds for the Friends’ ongoing work to support the nature center.”

This year’s 8K race will take runners along the nature center’s tall, windbreak trees; out past the observation tower; through the native prairies and woodlands; and along and over the two branches of Dobbins Creek.

Dr. Eric Overby of Overby Orthodontics in Austin created and led the fall 8K run for years as a fundraiser for the nature center.

Proceeds from the event will go toward helping the Friends create outdoor, “nature-play” areas at the nature center. Attendees also will have the opportunity to pay for a Friends membership.

Cost is $30 for the 8K run that includes a pair of eclipse-viewing glasses and – if registered online by Sept. 29 – a race T-shirt. Registration can be done online by visiting the nature center’s homepage – – and clicking the register link at the top. There is no charge for those wanting to run or walk the 1-mile route.

Same-day registration for both runs and pre-registered check-ins will start at 9 a.m. Oct. 14 at the nature center.

Non-runners are also encouraged to come to the Nature Center for the eclipse as there will be local food trucks and eclipse-viewing glasses available for $1 for the non-8K participants. Family Eye Care Center in Austin has donated 400 glasses for the eclipse viewing thanks to Dr. Jeff Anderson, a former Friends board member.

The Cedar River Astronomy Club will be onsite to offer eclipse programming in which people can safely view the eclipse through a telescope or use provided solar-eclipse glasses.

Event sponsors so far include the Friends of the Hormel Nature Center; Alpha Media USA (KAUS AM/FM radio); Family Eye Care Center; Kwik Trip; and Farm Bureau Financial Services – Darrell Ingvaldson.