The old adage on Thanksgiving Day- Gobble Till you Wobble- takes on a new meaning on Thanksgiving morning at Go! Running. There, with more than a thousand of your closest friends and relatives, you can pre-gobble waddle your way to a calorie deficit before sitting down at the table with turkey and stuffing. This is Arkansas Outside’s third year to participate in the Go!bbler run. The first year Joe took photos while Nicholas Norfolk wrote the article, last year I ran the 4 mile route while Joe took pictures. This year I ran the 6.5 mile route hoping to see and wish lots of friends a Happy Thanksgiving. One of the things we are most thankful for are the people we’ve met in the running community, those we consider friends, those we are happy to see at so many of the running events around the state. We appreciate their dedication to the sport, their athleticism, and most of all, we admire the heart they put in to helping others. Along the course I ran in to many friends and missed seeing many more in the throng of runners.
I started the run with friend and AO contributor Cliff Li, both of us in our chosen turkey head gear. Within the first few hundred yards we began to see friends, calling out “Hello” and “Gobble Gobble” to each other. As the thundering horde stomped down the bleachers at Forest Heights Middle School, I heard my name and turned to see friends Kelly, Alyssa and Heather right behind me allowing me a few seconds to wish them Happy Turkey Day and gather a quick hug. It was also long enough for me to lose Cliff in the melee. I ran on catching up with Arkansas running aristocracy Bob and Rosemary to exchange pleasantries and stories about the luck of being photographed running in front of Leah Thorvilson. On this day of Thanksgiving I was looking forward to sharing my thanks with the people who race after race, year after year, event after event, give their time and energy to volunteering. Just before entering the trail section at Alsopp Park, I see a familiar silhouette, Christine Meroney was once again cheering runners on from the sideline while husband and Arkansas Road Runners Club of America President David was just a few yards beyond her to make sure everyone made the turn onto the dirt. I am thankful for these two people, who seem to be omnipresent. If I do not see them running, I can count on being cheered on by them at some point. They selflessly give of their time to welcome Arkansas runners to the clan.
As I ran along the trail I stopped a couple of times to take photos of fellow runners, some for myself and some for them as we all want- pictorial proof/souvenirs of our adventures. At some point along the trail, my friend Heather caught up to me. Heather also happens to be an incredible volunteer within the cycling community. Just as we exited the singletrack of Alsopp, friend and frequent trail running partner Skip was there for another hug, another “Happy Thanksgiving”, and another representation of the volunteer spirit.
Heather and I ambled that last mile or so, happily chatting about upcoming cycling events and how we planned to spend the rest of our holiday weekend. It would mean more running for me and cyclocross for her; pie would be in the cards for both of us. We passed cheeleader extraordinaire Katie McManners not far from the finish, once again giving her morning up to smile and wave. Having friendly volunteers on the course is important, especially for people from out of town who don’t know the route. This year 29 states were represented with Carol Kliner from Sacramento, CA winning the “I traveled the farthest to be here” award. With those statistics it’s easy to say that those who have adopted the Go!Running family love to share running with their original families.
I was back to the place I started, in front of Go!Running, but now the parking lot was mostly empty in comparison to the crush before the start. I took a moment to peek into the back of the Arkansas Foodbank truck to see the growth of the pile of donated food. I delivered my boxes of baking mix, sugar, and brown sugar to Santa. I hope that small gesture enables a family to enjoy some good baking this holiday season. Last year the Go!bbler collected more than 2300lbs of food. The goal for this year was 3000lbs. With around 1300 runners, that goal should be easily met.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have while many were preparing for the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to buy gifts in anticipation of showing thanks to those we care about when Christmas rolls around. This week we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a day to gift those charitable organizations that serve our community. We appreciate the time and energy volunteers donate at races and events and want to support the scores of volunteers who serve tens of thousands of Arkansans in need. The Arkansas Foodbank, recipient of the donations from the Go!bbler, is just one of many Arkansas non-profits on the list of organizations who could benefit from your gifts on Giving Tuesday. Another organization that is close to the heart of many runners for their work with blind and visually impaired runners is World Services for the Blind. If you need other suggestions for ways you can give back this holiday season, please visit the Arkansas Non Profit Alliance.
OVer 800 photos are now posted on our Facebook Page.