Runners faced Frieda’s gauntlet: starfruitFrieda’s Inc. sponsored an unusual obstacle — starfruit — in the midst of a 5-kilometer run at the Southland Credit Union Sugar Beet Festival in Los Alamitos, Calif., where the company is based.

The Sugartown Challenge 5K-ish Fun Run was held June 7 at the second-annual festival.

“We took our ‘Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You’ message to a different level and made our obstacle an edible one,” Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “You have to eat a piece of scary fruit before you continue on your race.”

Frieda’s chose starfruit for that challenge. Jackie Caplan Wiggins, vice president and chief operating officer, managed the obstacle station, handing out slices of starfruit and verifying runners took at least one bite.

“There were about 300 participants in the challenge, and most came back to our booth after they completed the challenge to ask us about the fruit they just ate,” Wiggins said.

Frieda’s booth featured what the company dubbed The Greatest Exotic Fruit and Vegetable Petting Zoo on Earth. It let parents and children learn about and handle specialty items like rambutan, Kiwano, tamarillo, zululand queen baby pineapples, color cauliflower and purple snow peas. Karen Caplan and her mother, founder Frieda Rapoport Caplan, greeted attendees.

The festival celebrates Los Alamitos’ founding and its historic ties to sugar beet production.