Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2013, 4:00 am

Dead heats may be this race's goal

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By Leon Lagerstam, llagerstam@qconline.com

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Photo: Paul Colletti/pcolletti@qconline.com
Yenny Andreu and Kristi Siwajek will help Casa Quad Cities celebrate its first 5K race in honor of Día de los Muertos at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, on the bike path near the Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport. The Día de los Muertos celebration is a part of Latin American culture honoring the memory of loved ones. A post-race fiesta will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Figge Art Museum. A Día de los Muertos exhibit will include larger-than-life Catrinas and community altars. Crafts, food, music, and dancing by Ballet Folklorico will be included. The Figge's Día de los Muertos exhibit closes Sunday, Nov. 3.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti/pcolletti@qconline.com
An Isabel Bloom-designed Día de los Muertos award will be given to the winners of the Casa Quad Cities' 5K race on Saturday, Nov. 2.
DAVENPORT -- Organizers of an "El Dia de los Muertos" 5K run and post-race activities want to glorify death instead of "gore-ify" it.

Participants won't be running for their lives in the Saturday, Nov. 2, Casa Guanajuato Quad-Cities "Day of the Dead" event, but running for life, Casa executive director Michael Woods said.

He hopes to draw 100 people and raise $4,000 to $5,000 from the first-time race, with proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization's family, youth and health initiatives.

There are seven age groups. The cost is $30 for adults and free for kids ages 9 and younger. Register online at getmeregistered.com. For information, call Kristi Siwajek at 309-736-7727 or visit casaqc.org.

The race will begin at 9 a.m. on the bike path near the Freight House Farmer's Market in Davenport, preceded by a 7 to 8 a.m. registration. A post-race fiesta will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Figge Art Museum, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport.

There will be food, music, crafts and Ballet Folklorico dancing.

People at the post-race party will get one of the last chances to see a Día de los Muertos exhibit, featuring 30 larger-than-life Catrinas and community altars sprinkled throughout the museum, but largely confined to the Mary Waterman Gildehaus Community Gallery. The exhibit will end Sunday, Nov. 3.

Catrinas are costumed skeleton figures that have become "some of the most recognizable images displayed in modern 'Day of the Dead' celebrations," according to Figge placards.

"We have the largest collection of Catrinas in the world, that we know of," Mr. Woods said. "Catrinas are all about life. They are a true symbol that, in life, we may have different socio-economic classes, but in death, we're all the same."

He hopes runners and walkers come dressed as Catrinas.

An iconic LaCatrina figure parodies a high-society female skeleton character wearing a large, stylish hat, museum placard information said. "Catrinas now are a playful way to represent the living and the dead through character portrayal and serve as a reminder that life is full of joy, even though it has an inevitable end."

Race awards will have an "El Dia de los Muertos" -- "Day of the Dead" -- theme, development director Kristi Siwajek said. Skull-shaped statues will be given to overall winners and butterfly pendants will be awarded to age-division champs, she said. The skulls and pendants are Isabel Bloom creations.

Each participant will get paper mache skull and mask race souvenirs, she said. "We have all ages. We've had kids as young as 2 and adults as old as 60 sign up already."

The pendants appealed to event-helper Yenny Andreu, of Volunteers in Service to America, or VISTA. "I'm going to have to push my daughter to win her age group so she can get one of them," she said. Her daughter is 8.

"El Dia de los Muertos" was celebrated last year at the organization's Casa Community Arts Center in Moline. Organizers decided to add a race and move the celebration to the Davenport side to broaden awareness of the traditions and cultures to both sides of the river, Mr. Woods said. Every other year, organizers plan to return to the Figge to hold the event. Next year, they plan to hold "Day of the Dead" events in local libraries, he said.

It's also a great way to conclude National Hispanic Month festivities, Mr. Woods said.

"Viva Quad Cities does a run at the beginning of National Hispanic Month," he said. " 'Viva' means life, so this incorporates a 'run for life' at the beginning and then our 'run for the dead' at the end."

Yet, it shouldn't be confused with Halloween, he said.

"It's not as morbid," Mr. Woods said. "We want to glorify death rather than 'gore-ify' it."