REDDING, Conn. – Besides food, Thanksgiving Day is stuffed with races around Fairfield County. John McCleary believes he has found room for another one in Redding.
The Great Turkey Escape 5K race and 1K kids run will be run on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 28, beginning at 8 a.m. McCleary, who also organizes the popular Redding Road Race half marathon in May, believes the new race will also be well-received.
“Thanksgiving races are very popular,’’ McCleary said. “Ridgefield gets 1,000 runners. The Pequot Race in Southport sells out, a race in Newtown sells out. There are plenty of runners for these races. With the cooperation of the West Redding Fire Department, we were able to do it.”
The race starts and ends at the West Redding Fire Department station on Umpawaug Road. Proceeds benefit the West Redding Volunteer Fire Department, Landmark Academy and the Boy Scouts of America.
McCleary has some hooks that will help grow the race quickly. The race is partnering with a group, Just Girl It, which is promoting physical fitness and self-awareness for girls in grades 2 to 5. The group has been meeting once a week in preparation for the race and does yoga, stretching and running. McCleary said about 30 girls have already registered.
He also provides some of the best swag for runners. Runners pre-registered by Oct. 31 will receive long sleeve technical shirts, personalized bag and embroidered running beanies. He plans to cap the race at 1,000 runners.
“We’re excited about partnering with Just Girl It,’’ McCleary said. “It’s Ridgefied-based and looking to expand to Redding. I think it’s a fabulous program.”
The first two miles of the course have some hills, McCleary said, but runners will enjoy a fast finish. “If you get over the hill at mile two, you’ll be rewarded with a fast finish,’’ he said.
McCleary knows runners have dinner plans on the table later in the day, but figures the early start will have them on their way home well in time to stuff the turkey. “I have to get to New Jersey, too, so we’ll get it over pretty early and get going,’’ he said.
More details and registration information is on the race website.