It's not often that you can help yourself and others at the same time, but the annual Turkey Trot, ahem, is truly a way to kill two birds with one stone.
Organizers and race founders Mary and Daryl Fauth of Hailey took the proverbial bull by the horns six years ago and created the holiday family event planned for Thursday, Nov. 26.
"This race was just an idea that came up in casual conversation with running friends who mentioned that it's too bad there's no 'Turkey Trot' on Thanksgiving," Daryl said. "So my wife and I and a small band of volunteers decided to make it happen."
The inaugural race, staged at Foxmoor Park in Hailey, right outside the Fauths' backdoor, attracted 100 people.
Since then, participation has grown exponentially and last year's Turkey Trot attracted a record 600 participants. Due to its success, traffic issues and requirements by the city of Hailey, the race venue has been moved to the Community Campus on Foxmoor Road.
"I think part of the reason the race has done so well in terms of participation is that it gives people an opportunity to give a little back," Fauth said. "Other than the traditional opening day for Baldy, there isn't a whole lot going on that day, so many families, local and from out of town, have made this race a family tradition."
Beneficiaries of the event include the Souper Supper program, which serves free meals to needy people.
Dora Levin, treasurer for Souper Supper, said the funds raised by the Turkey Trot have been an invaluable resource for the program.
"It has been a real impact," Levin said. "The Turkey Trot is a major source of funds for us. We have been able to purchase a lot of food and feed a lot of people with the funds given to us. It has been a great cooperative venture and we appreciate the help."
Souper Supper serves dinners to those in need on Monday and Thursday nights from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at St. Charles Catholic Church in Hailey. From January to October 2009, Souper Supper served 5,766 people. The program has been in existence for almost 12 years.
The Wood River Chapter of Girls on the Run, a program that promotes self-esteem and healthy lifestyles in young girls through running, also benefits from Turkey Trot funds. The 10-week fall program culminates with Turkey Trot.
Blaine County Title is the title sponsor of the Nov. 26 race, but gets help in the form of both equity and sweat equity from a dedicated contingent of volunteers and local businesses.
"The outpouring of support from the community has been fantastic," Fauth said. "One year, a passerby came up to one of my volunteers on race day and asked, 'What is going on this morning with all of these people?' The volunteer responded, letting them know it was the Turkey Trot and what it benefited. The passerby said, 'Well, I'm not much of a runner and I'm on my way to spend Thanksgiving with my family, but here, please take this money as a donation to the cause. I think what you are doing is great.'
"As you can tell, I'm very proud of this race and where we are today."
Participants can register for the Turkey Trot on the Web at www.haileyturkeytrot.com or in person at Blaine County Title in Hailey (above Shorty's in the E.G. Willis building) on Wednesday, Nov. 25, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pre-registration is strongly encouraged to avoid a hike in fees and guarantee receiving a schwag bag. The first 500 people to sign up also receive a Turkey Trot beanie. The cost is $15 per person or $40 for a family of four and $10 for each additional family member after that. Donations of non-perishable items to help restock the pantry at Souper Supper will also be collected at the race start.
"We guarantee a donation of $1,000 to Souper Supper and some years it has been more than that," Fauth said. "Last year we were able to contribute almost $2,000. Girls on the Run is guaranteed $500, but anything we make over and above our budget we split between the two organizations."
The 5K race (3.1 miles) starts and finishes at the Community Campus. Start time is 10 a.m.
Race winners in 2008 were Pedro Morales in 18:13 and Angenie McCleary in 20:12. Three-time champion Brad Mitchell holds the course record of 17:58.
Fauth said the Turkey Trot has become a tradition with his family that is as ingrained as the meal itself.
"My kids, Sam, 9, and Abby, 6, get really excited to help and it has become part of our family tradition. The night before, Sam and I set up the start and finish areas, and Mary and Abby are home filling up water jugs.
"We all come to the race together and do it as a family."