Although winter weather, a threatening forecast, and scheduling conflicts affected participation, the 2011 Cherokee Great Pancake Day Race proved to be another indomitable success, according to runners, organizers and fans.
Twenty-eight women registered for the event, a smaller turnout than the 40 participants in last year's frigid temperatures, and whopping 85 competing in the inaugural 2009 year under warm, pleasant weather conditions.
Finishing out the top 10 runners crossing the finish line and flipping their pancakes in their cast iron skillets were runner-up Liz Dawson, followed by Jenna Phipps, Emily Cook, Myla Stoneking, Molly Johnson, Deb Hankens, Karin Cedar, Julie Herring Kent, and Brenda DeRoo.
Dawson, Phipps, and Cook are graduating Cherokee Washington High seniors bringing youth and exuberance to the festivities.
Hankens was selected as Best Dressed in her traditional attire, and the team award for Best Dressed went to the Black Tie Racers, Karin Cedar, Myla Stoneking, Karla Wilkie, and Sue Parker in their stunning tuxedo-like apparel replete with lighted, flashing bow ties.
Karla Wilkie recorded the Best Flip at Finish Line Award as determined by Chief Flip Judge Pastor Larry Osterkamp.
The runners flipped their pancakes at the City Hall starting line and again at the St. Paul's United Methodist Church finish line, host of the annual event and of the Shriving Service conducted by Pastor Magrey deVega.
Following the race and Shriving services, about 175 people attended the pancake, sausage and egg dinner served at St. Paul's, whose free-will offering proceeds benefit the two food pantries in Cherokee County.
This year's proceeds totaled $900, bringing the three-year tote to date about $3,400 for the food pantries.
At the close of the Shriving Service, Supervising Vicar J.C. Cook gave the traditional charge to those assembled:
"I declare the Great Pancake Day Race of 2011 closed and, in accordance with tradition, I call upon the ladies of the land to assemble 12 months from now on Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Cherokee, Iowa to celebrate the Great Pancake Day Race of 2012."
Although disappointed but understanding the factors affecting this year's race numbers, for next year organizers pledge to reach out to area churches and others to form teams and/or recruit additional women to partake in this joyous, fulfilling event that simply puts smiles on everyone involved - racers, organizers, families, and spectators combined.
This joy translates into further joy for those who benefit most - the needy among us and the food pantries.