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Annual Cirque race to mark 15 years March 12 at Springs Preserve

If you want to meet Minnie or Mickey, you go to Disneyland. If you would rather mingle with dancers, acrobats and clowns, you can Run Away with Cirque du Soleil at the Springs Preserve March 12.

Brooke Wahlquist, project coordinator of community events at Cirque du Soleil, said the annual 5K and 1-mile fun run provides an immersive experience with Cirque artists that you just can’t get any other way.

“That kind of interaction is not something that you can get even at one of our shows, that sort of intimacy, unless you sit in the right seat,” she said.

Wahlquist said all of Cirque’s resident shows get into the act either volunteering behind the scenes, running in teams or dressing in costume to entertain the crowd.

“We have at least a couple dozen artists in costume that interact with the participants from the moment they check in at registration to after the race when they are relaxing and waiting for the results,” she said. “No matter where you are in the lineup, the Cirque artists will be there as you cross the start line to get you going and encourage you through, and then they will be there when you come back to the finish line, and they will help you with those last few hundred feet when you might be struggling but they’re going to encourage you to keep going. It is a lot of fun.”

“It is such a fun morning,” said Dawn Barraclough, Springs Preserve representative. “It’s definitely one of my favorite events that we do all year, and it’s a great way to sort of welcome in spring with a beautiful day, and the Cirque performers are just so much fun and animated. There is nothing like watching them run the warm-up session of the race. It is so great.”

Wahlquist said the race began through grass-roots employee efforts at “Mystere” and “O,” the lone Las Vegas resident shows at the time.

“I always think back to that core group of employees that came together and came to the community involvement team 15 years ago and said, ‘We want to do this; can you help us?’ And everybody said, ‘Yes.’ And that’s the best.”

Wahlquist said the race usually draws about 1,500 runners. Warm-up and post-race activities are hosted in the amphitheater area, and the runners travel along the road inside the Springs Preserve.

This year, in honor of the 15th anniversary, Wahlquist said runners can expect a few surprises. Last year, for the first time, Cirque artists put on a short performance while race results were being tallied. Wahlquist said that was so popular that participants can expect another show, along with other treats including Cirque ticket raffles, dining packages and room stays at the Cirque host hotels. The grand prize is a trip to New York to see the new Cirque musical.

Most years, the event brings in about $50,000. Cirque uses the money to fund $10,000 grants given to local organizations that support a variety of causes including at-risk youths and the homeless teen population. Wahlquist said this year’s grant organizations include Project 150 and Olive Crest. Some of the funds go to the Springs Preserve Foundation. Cirque grants also support arts organizations, such as the Rainbow Company Youth Theatre at the Charleston Heights Arts Center.

Wahlquist said Rainbow Company members have been invited to participate in the event sporting giant butterflies created by pop artist Romero Britto for Super Bowl XLI.

“We have had these (butterfly creations) at the race almost since its inception,” Wahlquist said. “These are really absolutely beautiful, and they provide another fantastic backdrop to the morning.”

On-site registration is set to open at 7 a.m., followed by pre-race activities and warm-ups beginning at 8 a.m. The race is set to start at 8:30 a.m. Live music and an award ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m.

Registration is $37 for the 5K and $27 for the 1-mile in advance or $30 after March 1. Visit cirquedusoleil.com/5krun.

— Contact View contributing reporter Ginger Meurer at gmeurer@viewnews.com. Find her on Twitter: @gingermmm.

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