For Mark Sigrist, running is almost his heart medicine.
"For me, I genuinely believe the key to health is to keep moving," he said. "I'm a pretty big runner."
Last year, Sigrist organized the Thanksgiving Wattle 5K Run/Walk, and it returns to Grove City this Thanksgiving morning. The 5K event, presented by Mount Carmel Health, begins at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 28, while the Primrose Children's Run will begin at 8:30 a.m.
"Thanksgiving morning lends itself to families coming together," Sigrist said.
Sigrist is a Grove City native who now lives in Upper Arlington, and he still has family in Grove City. He said he used to participate in UA's annual Thanksgiving 5K but wanted something in his hometown that would bring like-minded individuals together to celebrate health and life.
"The south side is kind of under-served on these things," said Sigrist, "I felt there was definitely enough population and people to make it happen."
Grove City resident Amy Boland, who has 10 members of her family participating this year -- including a sister from Texas and an aunt, uncle and cousin from Kansas -- said they had a good time last year.
"We enjoyed having something to do early on Thanksgiving," she said. "We got some exercise in the morning and then had our family traditions in the afternoon."
In its debut year, the event attracted 1,100 participants.
"I think this year we'll probably double that," Sigrist said. "We're at twice the sign-up rate as last year."
Participants are invited to bring along their dogs if they want. Dogs that are pre-registered will receive goodie bags prepared by Dr. Andrea Mayberry of the Grove City Veterinary Hospital.
The event has 20 dogs registered for the event so far, Sigrist added, and the final number is expected to be between 30 and 40.
The start/finish is located on Lamplighter Drive in Grove City, just south of AMC Theatres, and will proceed down Buckeye Parkway through the Pinnacle round-about through to Sunridge and then back on Buckeye.
That route, Sigrist said, offers enough change in elevation, scenery and and wide-open green space to make it attractive to runners.
"I can't imagine a better 5K course in central Ohio than Buckeye Parkway," he said.
Grove City resident Hope Short, who participated with her son and husband, said that's right in their neighborhood.
"We can walk to the starting line," she said. "It seemed like a good tradition to start doing every year."
This year, Short said her daughter will be joining the family for the event and that her children probably will dress up in costume for it.
"Last year, (her son) painted a beard on his face," she said.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Grove City Food Pantry and the Success Beyond the Classroom Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides extra-curricular activity scholarships for South-Western City School District students.
"Our goal this year is to increase our donation to the food pantry," Sigrist said. "It looks like it's growing."
Last year, the organization received more than 2,000 pounds of canned food, and more than $11,000 was raised.
The cost, which Sigrist said is event is the lowest for a central Ohio running event Thanksgiving morning, is $35 for adult runners and $30 for runners 18 years of age and younger. The children's run, for children ages 10 and under, is $15.
On-line registrations, sponsor links and more details can be found online at thanksgivingwattle.com.