YMCA Maple Leaf Walk Run warms up pavement for parade

Before the Maple Leaf Parade route was filled with floats, runners made their way through the route.

The 19th Annual YMCA Maple Leaf Walk Run started at 7:00 a.m. Saturday at Riverside Park and warmed up the pavement on the parade route before returning to Riverside. There was a half-marathon, a 5-mile run, a 5-K walk-run and another race just for kids.

Bill Soper, executive director of the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, said about 175 volunteers and 1,300 runners showed up early Saturday morning with smiles on their faces.

“Our staff’s here are 4:45 a.m, and then the runners start showing up about 6:00 a.m. And just to see [the] good mood everybody’s in this early in the morning, you know — just to be part of Oktoberfest celebrations is fun,” said Soper.

New to this year’s event were warm pretzels with cheese to feed runners after they finished.

The event benefits the Y’s Annual Campaign, which helps the Y provide services to the community.