The inaugural Thanksgiving Wattle, a Thanksgiving-morning 5K walk/run in Grove City, will benefit participants' health as well as two local charities.
"I grew up in Grove City and I feel like there's no reason this community can't start its own tradition of having a Thanksgiving-morning race," said Mark Sigrist, an Upper Arlington resident who is organizing the event.
The 5K event will begin at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22.
"Upper Arlington has the longest-running Thanksgiving run/walk in central Ohio and my nephew and niece who live in Grove City come and take part in that event," Sigrist said. "We've talked about how come Grove City can't have its own event. Well, why not?"
More than 50 percent of the event's profits and 100 percent of donations will support the Grove City Food Pantry and Success Beyond the Classroom, the local organization that helps defray the cost of participating in sports or marching band for qualifying students, he said.
The course for the 5K event will start on Lamplighter Drive, just south of the Rave Cinema. Participants will proceed west to Buckeye Parkway, south to the Pinnacle roundabout and through the roundabout to Sunridge, take a hairpin turn and go north on the west side of Buckeye Parkway, then proceed east on Lamplighter to the finish line.
"The Buckeye Parkway area and the area near the Pinnacle golf course is a great setting for a race and a nice showcase of the development that's been going on there," Sigrist said.
Participants can run full out "or you can walk your dog or push a stroller," he said. "The main thing is to get out there and enjoy some fresh air and exercise."
The cost to participate in the event is $27 through Nov. 10 and $32 afterwards, Sigrist said. The entry fee includes a long-sleeve T-shirt, chip time service and race bib.
The top 250 male and 250 female finishers will receive a pumpkin pie.
"Thanksgiving-morning races have become more and more popular, but there aren't any south of I-70," Sigrist said. "The UA race has been going on for more than 20 years and they've been holding events in Buffalo and Cincinnati for more than 100 years.
"I'm hoping this can become a longtime tradition in Grove City that can keep on going for years and years to come," he said.
Participants can register for the event online at thanksgivingwattle.com or by downloading the registration form and mailing it and a check to Phoenix Events LLC, 1180 Regency Drive, Columbus 43220.
"The UA event has 6,000 or 7,000 participants. I'm hoping we'll have 600 to 800 for our first event in Grove City," Sigrist said. "We already have 250 people signed up."
Packets can be picked up and registration will be held in the lobby of the Grove City Rave Cinema, 4218 Buckeye Parkway. The pick up and registration will take place from 2 to 6 p.m. Nov. 18; 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 19-21; and 6 to 8 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
The Wattle will include "an event within an event," allowing South-Western high school students and teachers to place for their school and middle school students to place for their feeder high school, Sigrist said.
A cross-country scoring system will be used, in which the higher one finishes, the lower score one receives. The school that earns the lowest score among the top 50 finishers will win, he said. All who place in the top 50 for the winning high school (25 male and 25 female) will receive a free Top 50 T-shirt, which will be distributed within two weeks following the race.
A children's run also will be held at 8:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. Youngsters 10 and under will chase a mascot and receive a T-shirt, cookie and medal. All proceeds from the children's run will benefit the Grove City Food Pantry.
"Our guidelines are that children 5 and under will run 150 yards and those 6 and older will run 700 yards," Sigrist said.
The entry fee for the children's run is $10 and the entry deadline is Nov. 15 or once the entry field reaches 200, whichever comes first.
"Rave Cinema will offer a free family movie at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving in exchange for one canned donation to the food pantry," Sigrist said. "That will give parents a safe place to leave their child while they participate in the adult race."