HOLDEN, Mass. — More than 800 runners took part in the Holden Road Race last Thanksgiving Day to raise more than $14,000 to benefit the Wachusett Food Pantry, and this year event organizers hope to top that.
"We hope to take what happened last year and make it even bigger," said Mark Helfrick.
In an effort to bring new life to the Thanksgiving race in 2011, members of Fellowship Church organized a new 5K event.
"We really wanted to create this huge tradition environment," said Marty Holman, who said they wanted a party atmosphere that brings the community together.
"We tried to avoid having it be just a race, where people show up, they run and they go home," added Helfrick. "We wanted to make it more of an event, where even if people felt like walking it, they felt comfortable doing so."
The race drew a wide assortment of participants, from experienced runners to those doing their first couch-to-5K. One family even shared the experience with their little one, bringing the the tot along in a stroller decorated to look like a turkey.
"We both love our town, and so we had a real positive feeling to be part of something like this," said Helfrick.
All net proceeds from race registration will go to the pantry and Joseph’s Project, a non-profit organization that delivers food to families in a confidential manner to protect and respect their privacy.
"They work very closely with the food pantry, and I thought by helping them as well we'd be supporting the broader mission of helping get food on the table for those in need in Central Massachusetts," said Helfrick.
The race will begin and end at the Big Y plaza on Route 31, with runners winding their way through town and up and down the hills of Holden.
Registration is already open for the race, which will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 22. The entry fee is $25.