Runners who enjoy starting their Thanksgiving Day with a Turkey Trot will have a new option this holiday season.
Instead of driving to the Turkey Trot in Clearwater or the FishHawk Turkey Trot, area runners will be able to do a 5-kilometer or a one-miler at the first Wiregrass Wobble Turkey Trot at The Shops at Wiregrass in Wesley Chapel. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 28.
Brink, the race director, came up with the idea for the Wiregrass Wobble. However, he credits his wife Erica with coming up with the name and dreaming up the prize that winners will receive — an engraved carving board for use at their holiday gatherings later in the day.
Besides giving runners a new race, the event is raising money for Feeding America Tampa Bay and the New Tampa YMCA.
Brink, who is general manager of Fitniche at The Shops at Wiregrass, said the idea for the event came out of the weekly run he organizes at the mall every Thursday night.
There are two groups of runners who run at the mall with one heading out at 6 p.m., and the second at 6:30 p.m., Brink said.
Since they always meet on Thursdays, they decided to do a morning run last Thanksgiving.
They announced that plan about a week before Thanksgiving, Brink said. Much to his surprise, roughly 150 people showed up.
Brink figured if that many people turned out with just a week’s notice, the event could draw substantially more runners with more lead time. Thus began the planning for this year’s event, which Brink believes will attract at least 1,000 runners.
“We have Seven Oaks and Meadow Pointe and all of these giant neighborhoods within a few miles of here that are (homes to) young families,” Brink said.
He expects runners to come from such communities as Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Zephyrhills, Dade City, Land O’ Lakes and Lutz.
Lutz resident Jonathan Bosque, 18, said he plans to be there. The Freedom High student has run at the Turkey Trot in Clearwater for the past three years.
“I just love running,” Bosque said. “This is a great community place for running.”
Brink said he expects the Wiregrass Wobble to become a premier event for the area because the other Turkey Trots are so far away.
“The Clearwater one is the biggest one. They have about 15,000 people doing four different races,” Brink said. “To get down there, to get parking, to get registered, everything like that, it’s going to take over an hour to do all that.
“There’s so many people in the North Tampa area that have no desire to wake up that early on Thanksgiving morning. So, really the area needed something like this. I think we’re going to have a huge turnout,” Brink said.
He also noted that once the county gets a planned park built on adjacent land in Wiregrass Ranch, organizers can add a 10k run.
The route of the Wiregrass Wobble’s 5k will go around the mall and Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, ending to the top of the mall’s parking garage.
“Doing 3.1 miles takes some maneuvering,” Brink said, noting the idea is to keep the race off busy roads. “Luckily we have a really big parking garage over there — that will give us some distance.”
The race director thinks the event will be a popular choice for families who want to take a walk or run before settling down later to their Thanksgiving meals. He also thinks it will be a nice option for people who are having family in for the holiday.
“People are traveling on Thanksgiving to be with family. They’re looking for something to do together,” Brink said.
Runners who register early enough will receive a T-shirt that’s designed to keep them dry and cool while they race. The 5k will also be a chip-timed event, Brink said. The chip ensures that racers are timed from the start line to the finish.
Registration is $25 for the 5k and $20 for the one-miler.
Runners who sign up in person at any Fitniche location or the New Tampa YMCA can get a $5 discount if they donate five nonperishable goods for the food bank, Brink said.
Registrations are also being accepted online at signmeup.com.
Runners will also be able to register on race day.
<b><i>Story updated to reflect correct date of Nov. 28.</b></i>