As of Tuesday afternoon, almost 9,000 runners were signed up in one of the five races running Thursday, said Cara Reeve, the special events coordinator at MUST Ministries.
These runners are expected to be joined along the race routes by family, friends and cheerers, and more than 11,000 people are expected to pack the area Thursday morning, Reeve said.
They will add to the numbers of people running across the nation in efforts to break the Guinness world record for the most runners running in a multi-venue event in a 24-hour period, said Bryan Kraham, the director of business development with BSX athletics, a sports technology company in Houston, Texas.
Marietta will join races across the country including Charleston, S.C., San Jose, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Traverse City, Mich., and Baton Rouge, La., in an effort to break a Guinness Book of World Records, which is currently held by a city in Malaysia, near the Philippines, which recorded 116,086 runners crossing a finish line, Kraham said.
“It’s a fun and unique way to get people off the couch,” on a day of historic gluttony, Kraham said.
About 135,000 people are expected to run this Thursday in events nationwide, Kraham said, despite the cold front moving across the country.
Marietta was the first city to sign on to the record-breaking attempt, and the 11th running of the Gobble Jog is expected to break its own traditions this year, said Kaye Cagle, director of marketing for MUST Ministries.
Almost 11,000 people are expected to pack the square, neighborhoods and race route Thursday, which this year includes five different races going off between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m.
One of the differences this year is the addition of a separate untimed 5K run for recreational runners, Cagle said, that is more accommodating for dogs and strollers.
The race routes for the 1K, Hot Trot, 5K and 10K will all start and end in The Square, which will be filled with a DJ, free food and coffee and people dressed in costume, Reeve said.
Along the run, there will be water stops for runners, depending on the length of the event, as well as a musical “Rock Stop” at State Bank on Church Street, right after runners cross the 120 loop, where the band Mad Mission will perform, Cagle said.
As participants cross the finish line, they will be greeted to a show of festivities, which will include music, food and extra cheers from the hundreds of volunteers who make the event possible each year, Cagle said.
The Gobble Jog first began in 2003, when 1,400 runners helped raise $29,000 for MUST Ministries and has since grown into a holiday staple for the city’s residents, and is the seventh largest Thanksgiving Day race in America, Cagle said.
The event raises about $450,000 for MUST Ministries, which uses the money to help 34,000 people in need across the state, whether it be to provide bedding at emergency homeless shelters or purchase food to stock the shelves of food pantries, Cagle said.
MUST Ministries has been planning this year’s race since the day after Thanksgiving 2012, she added.
The Marietta Daily Journal, as well as WellStar, AutoNation and Superior Plumbing will all be sponsors for the event this year.
Weather to be good
Despite the winter weather that is hitting the area this week, Thanksgiving Day is expected to offer a glimmer of sunshine in this so-far dreary week. Thursday’s temperatures are expected to be in the low 40’s but sunny, according to weather.com.
Colder temperatures might also help people run faster, said Cagle.
The turkey, and the DJ and the volunteers will all be ready to jog on Thursday, it’s just up to Marietta’s runners to show up, she said.
The government and most of the city’s businesses will be closed on Thursday, Cagle added, so there will be plenty of room to park in the city’s parking decks and in many of the lots around the square.
Race festivities will begin at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and are expected to be finished by noon, Cagle said, just in time for turkey. Runners are advised to show up within 30 minutes of their start times, according to the Gobble Jog website, where more information on the event can be found, at gobblejog.org.
Mariettans will find out if they were in fact part of breaking a world record by mid-next week, after all the race results come in from across the country, Kraham said.
If you go ...
WHAT: 11th Annual Gobble Jog
WHEN: Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
WHERE: The Marietta Square
WHERE TO PARK: The city parking decks along Cherokee Street and Waddell Street, any parking spots around city buildings
HOW TO REGISTER: Online registration has closed, but runners can still sign up today at First United Methodist Church, Family Life Hall, between noon and 7 p.m., 56 Whitlock Avenue, or on race day starting at 6:30 a.m. (only for untimed races)
Prices to register now:
• Tot trot: $20
• 5Ks and untimed 1K: $40
• Timed 5K and 10K: $45
• 7:30 a.m.: 10K
• 8:45 a.m.: 1K
• 9 a.m.: 5K timed
• 9:30: untimed 5K
• 10:30: Tot trot
MORE INFORMATION: Online at www.gobblejog.org.