The event has signed up 1,200 more people than it did at this time in 2011, Cagle said. Its first race, the 10K, is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at the Marietta Square, with the 1K at 9:15, the 5K — the most popular race — at 9:30 and the Tot Trot for kids wrapping up the event at 10:30. Each race in the event, which is sponsored by the Marietta Daily Journal, the Tribune’s sister paper starts and ends at the Square.
Forecasts call for sunny skies and temperatures in the high 40s at race time.
MUST Ministries CEO Ike Reighard is pleased with the support the community shows for 41-year-old MUST and its primary fundraiser.
“It’s such a great Thanksgiving tradition for the Marietta area,” Reighard said. “People have seen the great job (MUST) does helping the less fortunate, and I think our hearts are more in tuned during the holiday season.”
Reighard said the Gobble Jog has also benefitted from promotion on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
MUST helps 34,000 individuals a year, half of whom are children. Along with feeding and providing shelter for those without homes, the agency will have the MUST Toy Shop to help find toys for thousands of families.
“When you have a fundraiser like this, it helps you to fund the programs, and, during the holidays, the need increases dramatically,” he said.
The Gobble Jog has grown from hosting just 1,400 runners and raising $29,000 in the inaugural 2003 event.
Will Goodman said he runs in the Gobble Jog each year to support MUST. The sixth-generation Mariettan runs with his children and several other family members.
“I am a big fan of MUST,” he said. “It’s amazing how it’s gotten so big.”
For many, the event has become a major part of Thanksgiving tradition.
“When I go for my second plate at Thanksgiving, it doesn’t feel as bad,” Goodman said.
The Gobble Jog has already surpassed the number of teams of 10 or more that participated last year, Cagle said. So far, 78 teams had registered, compared to 73 in 2011. The largest team, Kennesaw United Methodist Church, has more than 180 members.
By running as a team, participants can save $2 per person off their registration.
Runners can still sign up for the shorter Gobble Jog races this morning, though they can no longer have their runs timed, which allows them to attempt to qualify for races like the July 4 Peachtree Road Race, Cagle said. “Day-of” registration costs $40 for the 5K, $35 for the 1K and $20 for the Tot Trot.
Cagle expects a festive atmosphere, with some participants dressed as pilgrims, and others bringing dogs in bandanas and baby strollers.