By Amy Wight Chapman
While some took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to sleep in or were busy with dinner preparations, several dozen intrepid runners braved a chilly early morning wind to run in the first annual Thanksgiving Day Wobble and Gobble 5K.
Held to support programming at the University of Maine 4-H Camp and Learning Center in Bryant Pond, the race was a great success, said Cassie Mason, who serves on the center’s board of directors.
“The goal was roughly 40 to 50 participants for our first year, but we had 74 register to run and 60 finishers,” she said via email after the race.
“We raised approximately $4,000 for the 4-H Learning Center’s Harvest for Health Initiative and were successful in delivering donated food items to a local pantry.”
Race organizers awarded prizes to the top three male and female finishers but kept the focus on fun. Some racers showed up to run in costume, others brought along their canine companions, and all were cheered on by an enthusiastic group of spectators.
Fifteen-year-old Loedon Rodrigues of Bethel and Marblehead, Mass. took first place overall with a time of 19:40:21, edging out his father, Gerrick Rodrigues, who finished second, by less than four seconds.
Third place for men went to Jack ONeil, 17, of Bethel, with a time of 19:59:85.
Marianna Brown of Boston, Mass., whose family has a home in Gilead, was the top female finisher with 21:41:21, followed by Roz Satterlee of Greenwood at 23:26:67 and Amy Bottomley of Bethel at 24:03:62.
Mason said she got the idea for the race when she saw an opportunity to combine her passion for running and the outdoors with her service on the 4-H Camp board of directors and the board’s current focus on fundraising.
“The Harvest for Health Initiative, which brings gardening, healthy nutrition and physical fitness programming to thousands of local youth annually, seemed to fit hand in hand with the Thanksgiving Day holiday,” she said.
Mason’s affiliation with the 4-H Camp began when she attended what was then known as the Maine Conservation School as a camper.
Later, while in college, she worked during the summer as the camp’s waterfront director.
She credited the success of the inaugural Wobble and Gobble to the work of the 4-H Camp staff and board of directors, and to many generous sponsors from the business community.
Board member Steve Wight, who served on the race committee, said 4-H staff members Bethany Pelletier and Joyce Donnaruma “took care of all the backroom details, including sign construction, equipment logistics, prizes, insurance, etc., spending most of the week prior to the event in preparation.”
Lyndsey Smith brought nine local seventh-graders to participate in the race. They dressed in costume, and all completed the 5K with enthusiasm.
Smith is the coordinator for NorthStar, a youth mentoring program made possible by the Lerner Foundation’s Aspirations Incubator Program, in partnership with the 4-H Camp and SAD 44.
“Gobbler Sponsors” were Mike T. Steven & Associates, The Good Food Store, Steve D. Pelletier Custom Built Homes, The Cassie Mason Group at The Maine Real Estate Network, Norway Savings Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, Cumberland County Mortgage, Heritage Farr and Doug Zinchuk Roofing.
“Drumstick Sponsors” included Bancroft Contracting, True North Adventureware and McLean Law.
Timing, online race registration and finish line management were done by Run In A Race, LLC of Freeport.
“Our goals were surpassed, and we are looking forward to someday offering a one-mile walk or a 10K run to diversify the levels of participation for runners and walkers,” Mason said.
“Hopefully this will become a fun, annual tradition for local families and those who are visiting Bethel.”