With temperatures in the low 20s, participants in the event’s five different races were dressed in Santa suits and turkey hats, did jumping jacks and jogged in place in the Square as they waited for their races to start.
“We love this tradition,” said 43-year-old Marietta resident Krissy Carison.
Carison ran with her husband, Ken and two sons, Kyle, 10 and Connor, 7, in this year’s 5K race. Running in the Gobble Jog has been a Thanksgiving ritual for the family for six years, she said, and they couldn’t imagine a holiday without it, even if it was colder this year than in years past.
Cold weather doesn’t compete with tradition
Many runners commented on the low temperatures, but said they were undeterred by the numbers on their thermometers.
Tradition, and the thrill of running alongside so many other runners drew people out of bed Thursday morning to the Square, they said.
“We do it every year,” said 51-year-old Glenn Campbell of Marietta.
Campbell ran the 10K in a green and black plaid kilt for the third year in a row, he said. The experience of running in the race was one that couldn’t be squelched by cold weather.
His wife, Suzie Stuart, cheered him on this year from the sidelines. It was too cold for her to run this year, she said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jim Clark of Kennesaw.
Clark and his wife, Evelyn, walked the 10K for the fifth time this year, he said. The exercise was important before the feast this afternoon, he said.
“The cold didn’t keep people away,” said Mirtha Vaca-Wilkens, a resource development worker for MUST Ministries.
The 10K race was bigger this year than it had ever been before, she said, as the race has continued to grow in size since its inception 11 years ago.
As of Thursday morning, 9,500 people had registered to run in one of the races, said Jarrod Pellissier, who works for Racing Solutions. Pellissier was recording runners’ times Thursday morning, and estimated about 12,000 were involved in this year’s race, either as a runner, walker or cheerer.
Mariettans were part of a nationwide effort to set a Guinness world record for the most people running in a multi-venue event in a 24-hour period, joining runners in Thanksgiving 5Ks around the country, from Baton Rouge, La., to San Jose, Calif., to Baltimore, Md.
The final numbers will not come out until next week, but volunteers working the last-minute registration tables said the city added a decent amount of numbers to the count.
“I got here at 5:30 this morning and thought ‘No one is going to show up, it’s too cold,’ so this is fabulous,” said Teresa Crosby, a volunteer at the registration table.
The Acworth resident has volunteered at the race since its inaugural year, she said, and was surprised with the number of people who showed up and registered at the last minute Thursday morning, despite the cold.
“Every year, so far, it’s grown,” Crosby said.
A banner on Friar Drive reading, “Welcome Gobble Joggers,” encouraged runners to keep up the pace, although some veteran runners said the cheerers were sparse along the sidewalks throughout the neighborhood route in comparison to years past.
“It was pretty bleak, there weren’t that many people out cheering,” said Margaret Warren, 52, of Marietta.
She and three other friends walked the 10K race for the fifth year Thursday, she said, because it was a good tradition.
Despite the lack of cheerers, Warren said there was no dip in the number of runners in the streets this year.
“It’s a great way to start Thanksgiving, so we can eat,” later, said Warren’s friend Marsha Land, 59, of Kennesaw.
Costumes for warmth
Families dressed in costumes and said the extra layers kept them warm.
One-year-old Sophia Walker waddled around the Square, dressed as a turkey, with her parents, Matt and Rachel Walker.
“We figured it was a good costume, and it would keep her warm,” Rachel Walker said.
This is the fifth year the family has done the Gobble Jog, and this year they ran the 5K, Walker said.
“We decided to do it together, as a family,” said Lisa Dagnino, who was part of the six-member Huggins family running group.
Dressed in black hats decorated with leaves and turkey hands, the Huggins family, between 8 and 52 years old, ran the 1K for the first time this year, Dagnino said.