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COLUMN

Thanksgiving means traditions for runners, too

Galloping Gobbler, FA50 this week at Chain O'Lakes

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 5:32 am

Thanksgiving is all about traditions and area runners are no different. This year runners have two options: continue an old tradition or start a new one. Or, do both.

For several years runners and walkers have met on Thanksgiving morning for The Galloping Gobbler, a four-mile race at Saint Francis. This year, there is an option for runners to work off their over-indulgence (or avoid the shopping crowds) with a trail run Friday at Chain O'Lakes State Park.

The Gobbler has literally raced into historical status with last year's nearly 4,000 participants. In fact, it's quickly outgrown its narrow course from campus, through Lindenwood Cemetery and back. So, race director Mitch Harper has added an eight-mile option that starts off campus at 8:15 a.m. before merging with the four-mile participants (which start at 8:30 on campus).

Even with the race options, the field is nearly full.

Online registration (www.veepraces.com) ends at 11:59 tonight. The eight-mile race is already closed due to a full field.

Speaking of full, if your stomach is overly full and you feel the need to work off some of your Thanksgiving meal, then Friday's event at Chain O'Lakes is the perfect solution. The FA (as in Fat Butt) 50 is the brainchild of the Indiana Trail 100 race organizers and is a fun event that serves many purposes.

The run is free and begins at 9 a.m. from near the Sand Lake parking lot. There will be refreshments and some food available on the course.

“It's really for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with (Indiana Trail 100) course,” said co-race director Mike Pfefferkorn. “It's a perfect day to do something like this.”

The Indiana Trail 100 course consists of a 16.667-mile loop on trails through the park. The inaugural event is set for April 20-21 with an option of running six loops (100 miles) or just three loops (50 miles).

But just because the FA50 is named that, Pfefferkorn isn't holding runners to two loops (just over 50 kilometers).

“If you just want to come out and do one loop or two loops, that is fine,” Pfefferkorn said. “We could have up to 40 runners and we have several who are familiar with the course; we will make sure everyone is running with someone who knows the course.”

Pfefferkorn says input from runners is invaluable for the organizers of the Indiana Trail 100.

“We want to hear feedback on the course before the event,” Pfefferkorn said. “Anytime you can get a fresh set of eyes running on the course, that will help us.”

For over a year Pfefferkorn and his fellow race directors have hosted weekend trail runs on the course and those will continue this winter on Saturdays beginning at 9 a.m. Dec. 1.

“We will be out there almost every Saturday until the race (April 20-21),” Pfefferkorn said.

But there there will be only one FA50 and that is this Friday.

For more information on the the Indiana Trail 100, visit www.IndianaTrail100.com. For more information on Indiana Trail 100 training runs at Chain O'Lakes, visit Old Fort Ultrarunners Club on Facebook.