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The Journal Gazette

  • File The Galloping Gobbler 4-miler had more than 2,300 finishers last year. The event has become a family tradition for 15 years as holiday races continue to grow in popularity.

Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:00 am

Hoofing it for holidays

Area runs offer competition, seasonal flavor

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

Literally thousands of people in northeast Indiana will be out running to celebrate the holidays in the coming weeks.

Highlights for the November holiday season include the Turkey Trot at Fox Island, the Fort4Fitness Fantasy of Lights 5K at Franke, Galloping Gobbler at Saint Francis and the Pathfinder Kids Kampus 5K in Huntington, among other big events throughout the state and region.

And for those who want a friends-and-family atmosphere without the entry fee and competitive environment, there's Jerry Mazock's group run on Thanksgiving morning.

Each run offers something different for the competitors while still offering the holiday environment that attracts runners.

What stands out most about the Turkey Trot 5K is the surface: the trails at Fox Island County Park.

“(Participants) will be surrounded by a lot of fun people and there's the trail atmosphere, campground atmosphere, the lodge,” race director Dave Graney said. “It's different in the sense that it's almost like a big get-together. They have the fire going inside the lodge.

“Fox Island is really a hidden treasure.”

The race, which begins 10 a.m. Saturday, has a 15,000-centimeter kids sprint before the 5-kilometer main event.

The race also serves as the year's final Fort Wayne Running Club's points race, a final finish line for those in the pursuit for the Ironrunner awards for completing all 15 points races.

Earlier this fall, there was a three-race trail series at Fox Island, Pokagon and Franke Parks, perhaps indicating an increased interest in the different racing surface.

“Maybe there's a trend in trail running,” Graney said. “Get off the exhaust fumes, get off the pavement.

“It gives you a taste (of trails) for sure. ... (The course is) not that hilly. It's got some gentle lull to it.”

Online registration can be found at RunSignUp.com and closes Friday. Race-day registration is available at the Fox Island Park Nature Center along with packet pickup.

For more information, go to FortWayneRunningClub.org.

Before cars are allowed to drive through Blue Jacket's Fantasy of Lights at Franke Park, runners and walkers will get to preview the attraction on foot.

“It's kind of a first thing for the holiday season and people are excited to get into that,” Fort4Fitness' Carrie Reeb said about Saturday's Fantasy of Lights 5K. “People are going to get an ornament this year when they finish instead of a finishers medals, as well as a long-sleeve shirt.”

The race will have two waves at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to alleviate congestion issues the race faced in its inaugural year, 2016.

A second night was added for those wanting to just walk a 2-kilometer loop on Nov. 19.

With darkness falling earlier and earlier with each passing day, the lights and additional setup will provide runners with the visibility necessary to traverse the course.

“Most of the parts, the light displays light (up the course),” Reeb said. “Behind the pond pavilion, we're going up that trail a little bit. We're allowing strollers but warning participants of a gravel portion and a hill. We go up into that and come back down. We'll have lights around the corner from the BMX. We tell people they don't need headlamps but they can if they want.

“Our goal is to have it lit enough that they can safely see the course.”

For course maps, registration and more information, go to Fort4Fitness.org. Registration closes 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The Pathfinder Kids Kampus Turkey Trot 5K and the Galloping Gobbler 4-mile races have become staples for many on Thanksgiving morning.

With 786 finishers in last year's race, the 5K Turkey Trot race proves to be competitive but supportive toward the Kids Kampus charity in Huntington.

The race begins at McDonald's at 60 Home Street and winds through the Huntington University campus to a turnaround point near the hospital and back through another part of campus.

The race benefits the Pathfinder Kids Kampus Early Childhood Education Center.

For more information about the charity and the race, go to PathfinderServices.org.

The Galloping Gobbler at Saint Francis is the unofficial reunion for area runners past and present and provides a challenging course that winds through Lindenwood Cemetary before heading back to the Hutzell Center.

With more than 2,300 finishers last year, the Gobbler has become one of the area's biggest races, outside of Fort4Fitness.

For more information and to register, go to VeepRaces.com.

Every year for the past 40 years, Jerry Mazock has provided coffee and donuts for runners who want to enjoy the camaraderie and company of friends and family without the competitiveness.

It started with Mazock and three friends and featured 15 miles with day-old coffee and stale donuts but has evolved into 1.5-mile laps around the Emerald Lake subdivision with as many or as few as runners (or walkers) like.

“It's a training run for people who do not want to race but want to get together and have a little holiday cheer, a little Thanksgiving day cheer before the big day starts,” Mazock said.

“I know that, for me, the season, the competitive season was over usually the first week of November. It's beautiful running weather but maybe I wanted an alternative to a race, just to get together with friends and run. That's what we provided 40 years ago.”

Mazock's run begins 8 a.m. Thanksgiving Day from his house at 2828 Emerald Lake Drive. In addition to the run in the morning, Mazock will be turning on his Christmas light display at 7 p.m. that night.

As of Nov. 8, he's set up more than 56,000 lights with more work to come.

areichel@jg.net