"We have confidence there will not be a blizzard this year," Kent Pumpkin Run committee member Laura McLaughlin said several weeks before the event's Oct. 28 kickoff.

In reference to last autumn's freak snowstorm on race weekend, Mrs. McLaughlin was right on the money.

What she and others couldn't have known was that the Kent Chamber of Commerce's popular five-mile race would be lucky indeed to escape Mother Nature's wrath this fall.

The 36th annual race went off without a hitch, with a field of 482 enjoying their tour of the Kent countryside and a welcoming finish in the village center.

Just a day later, Kent and its neighboring towns were feeling the effects of the massive Hurricane Sandy.

"We beat the storm," said Ed Raftery, another committee member, no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. "We felt so fortunate to get the race in before the craziness hit.

"All in all it was a fantastic 36th running," said Mr. Raftery.

The only storm in town on race day was named Abdelhadi El Mauazi, a 35-year-old New York resident who not only dashed to victory but shattered Luke Meter's 2008 course record by 42 seconds, clocking 23:56 over the rolling terrain.

Claudia Camargo, 41, of Danbury was the women's champion, but not without a serious challenge from Sydney Fitzpatrick. The Hat City veteran checked in at 29:32 for ninth place overall, compared with 29:40 for the Massachusetts athlete.

Before, during and after the race, the village of Kent was alive that day with the many runners, as well as their families, friends and running aficionadoes of all ages.

Race participants were encouraged to donate to support the official charitable beneficiary -- the Kent Food Bank.

Music, refreshments, face painting, Halloween festivities and other features made for a special day for everyone, especially with hundreds of the runners dressed in Halloween costumes.

The day began with Kent Park and Recreation's annual Kids Fun Run, an event that further enhanced the turnout.

For the complete order of finish and divisional results, visit www.greystoneracing.net.

For more information, visit www.kentpumpkinrun.com or contact race director Dave Dunleavy at dunleavyrun@aol.com or 860-927-1332.

For more photos, check www.newmilfordspectrum.