Orange Crush

The Jack-O-Launch is a smashing success

 SAT, 10/9

Anyone itching to launch a pumpkin 4,000 feet might still qualify for the Punkin Chunkin world championship in Delaware next month. But locally, the entry deadline for today's sixth annual Jack-O-Launch in Aurora has passed, so most fans of pumpkin-projecting must merely watch. Still, the sight of pounds of pureed pumpkins should satisfy spectators at today's competition, which blasts off at 9 a.m. at the 157-acre DeLaney Farm, 170 South Chambers Road. Teams of pumpkin-hurlers, ranging from elementary students to professional engineers, will be vying for a $750 first prize.

While the distances the organic orbs will travel are far short of world-championship marks (1,100 feet at best), their stately arcs inspire awe. This year, for the first time, a local engineering company will provide an on-site GPS tracking system to measure distances.

Pumpkin-launching is the order of the day at the Jack-
O-Launch.
Pumpkin-launching is the order of the day at the Jack- O-Launch.

"This is very cool. Some of the pumpkins go hundreds of feet in the air," says Meghan Hughes, spokeswoman for the City of Aurora. "And some go ten feet."

Only kinetic devices may be used to get the gourds airborne during the competition, but air-cannon shooters will put on demonstrations for the enthusiastic crowds.

"We clear out the [Centre Hills golf course] nearby, just in case," Hughes explains, to prevent duffers from getting whacked by jack-o'-lanterns. By the time the veggie artillery is finished, there will be a lot more mulch along the boundaries of the historic site.

The event, which is part of DeLaney's free PumpkinFest, helps put the "fall" in fall festival. For information, call 303-739-7000 or visit www.ci.aurora.co.us/. -- Ernie Tucker

Silver, Gold -- Who Cares?
Denver revs up for its fifth annual marathon
SUN, 10/10

According to legend, a herald named Phidippides was dispatched from Marathon to run the 26 miles to Athens to announce the Greeks' victory over the Persians. When he was approaching the final mile, an Irish priest appeared from out of the crowd and blindsided him. By the time Phidippides was able to regain his footing, he had slipped to second and had to settle for the silver medal.

At least I think that's how it goes. Regardless, the spirit of the epic run will be alive and well in the Mile High City today during the 5th Annual Denver Marathon and Half-Marathon. The race, a Boston Marathon qualifier, begins and ends in Washington Park, near Kentucky Avenue and Downing Street; start times are 5:30 a.m. for walkers, 8 a.m. for runners. The 26.2-mile course winds its way through the city's neighborhoods, offering spectators plenty of opportunity to catch the action. (The route's streets will be closed for five hours; competitors are asked to use the sidewalks after that!) Entry fees are $40 to $50 for the half-marathon, $65 to $75 for the full run. For registration and information, call 303-374-8121 or go to www.denvermarathon.com. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

 
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