Ever since I started running a year and a half ago, I have been trying to figure out some way to make my new-found love of running about more than just myself. Sure, I have REALLY enjoyed the physical benefits of running (weight loss, fitness improvement, stress reliever) as well as the social benefit of the addition of an entirely new segment of GREAT friends. However, all along I felt like something was still missing.
That all changed on Thursday morning. With the help of my daily running partners, we sponsored the inaugural Mount Vernon Running Buddies Turkey Trot 5K. The purpose of this event was to encourage people to come out and get some exercise either walking or running prior to eating a big Thanksgiving meal, while also donating money or non-perishable food items to the local Food for the Hungry Drive.
While we have created several themed running events before, we decided to make this one as official as possible without a budget or required entry fee. We were able to get the local radio stations and newspaper to promote our event and we posted an event invitation on Facebook. We had no idea what would happen, but I was optimistic that we might be able to get 50 people to come and participate.
I got up at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday and headed out to get things ready. I groggily picked up cups for water at Kroger and then bought pretty much all the Timbits that the local Tim Horton's had on hand at that time on Thanksgiving morning. Then, I drove to the course to put up signs, set up tables, fill coolers full of water, and wait to see what would happen.
Pretty soon, a few people started to arrive. There was Sandy Rhoton from the Food for the Hungry Drive committee. Then, our first runner, Brian Vinson, who is someone I've come to know over the past year. And, then, George Hartz, another of the Mount Vernon Running Buddies. We decided to move the sign-in area inside since it was pretty breezy and chilly. I worried a little that people would drive into the parking lot and think there wasn't a race, but I trusted that they would still come.
The time kept ticking away and before long it was 7:30 and there were only a handful of people there. Then, it happened!
Suddenly, people started pouring in with bags of canned food items and monetary donations. The sign-in line to get race numbers backed up, but George did an excellent job of keeping things moving while Scott, Mary, and Zoey Burgess along with Sandy and my dad and I began stacking the food donations into a display.
The energy in the room was awesome and I was so excited as the crowd continued to swell well past the 50 that I had hoped to somehow reach. At about 7:55, I stepped outside for a quick look to see if we had any last-minute people coming from the parking lot. I let out an audible "thank you, Lord" as at the moment I was overcome with gratitude towards everyone who had taken time out of a busy family day to do something bigger than themselves. After taking in that moment, I quickly pulled myself together and walked back inside to give the instructions to the participants.
From everything that I have heard, the race went off without a hitch. 76 people from five different states ranging from 6 to 73 years old set off behind my dad who rode his bike on the chilly morning to lead the way. Brian, who had shown up first for the race, finished first in a time of 19:28 to just miss having a personal best by one second. Tricia Pokosh, a member of the Mount Vernon Running Buddies, finished 10th overall and was the fastest female in 23:27 as she joined Brian to take home the two inaugural trophies.
Most importantly, over $150 dollars and 160 food items were raised for the Food for the Hungry Drive. I've also gotten tremendous feedback from both people involved and people who have found out about the race afterwards and I fully expect this to become a new tradition for the Mount Vernon community that will quickly grow into triple digits in participants.
Thank you to everyone who helped to organize, promote, and make this happen. And a big thank you to everyone who came and participated. Together, we all made a big difference and did something pretty special. I can't wait to see what happens next.