ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Dave LeGarde: Gobble Gallop, and its youth, good for Duluth

The guilt of a giant, afternoon feast pushes me to get some exercise on the Thanksgiving holiday. Knowing I'll stuff myself beyond repair is incentive enough to get me outside doing something.

The guilt of a giant, afternoon feast pushes me to get some exercise on the Thanksgiving holiday. Knowing I'll stuff myself beyond repair is incentive enough to get me outside doing something.

When I was younger the obligatory touch football game was an ideal start to the day. Several friends and relatives would gather at the old Public Schools Stadium and tear around the grass imitating our Sunday heroes.

The past few years a brisk morning run has fulfilled my needs. As I took to the streets I often wondered about a Thanksgiving Day road race in Duluth and what it would take to pull it off. The cold weather and lack of local interest would always put a damper on my thoughts. I'd usually forget about it by the next day.

Last week, two young Duluthians took a chance and staged the Gobble Gallop, a 5K race through downtown that debuted with glowing success. Clint Agar and Grant Johnson provided an event that went far beyond expectations and gave a boost to my confidence in our city's future.

Putting on a race is no small undertaking and the logistics can be discouraging. Road closures, security, restrooms and finding volunteers are just some of the daunting tasks. Lining up sponsors and attracting enough participants are also vital components.

ADVERTISEMENT

These two guys should be commended for their efforts in pursuing such a positive endeavor. The city needs more people who are willing to take such initiative.

An avid local runner, I generally take part in most of the area's larger races. The Fitger's 5K and Park Point Five Miler are well-established and provide a pleasurable experience. Of course, nothing can compare to the enormity and big-time feel of the three classics that constitute Grandma's Marathon Weekend.

I was impressed with the Gobble Gallop in several ways. For a first-time venture it was very well-organized and racer-friendly. The brisk November wind made for a typical day in Duluth.

A heated tent made registration and race number pick-up bearable. Lines moved quickly and efficiently while workers were eager to assist in any way possible.

A slight delay at the beginning didn't deter anyone. Roughly 650 runners and walkers bounced around in the sub-freezing temperature while waiting for the start.

The out-and-back course is an interesting one. A straight shot on Superior Street from 13th Avenue East to the turnaround at the Radisson Hotel, the surrounding buildings form a tunnel-like atmosphere while runners navigate the brick pavement of downtown.

The finish line near the Rose Garden on London Road was an ideal place to end. An enthusiastic crowd of friends and families didn't let the chill keep them from making noise.

A well-staffed post-race area was a welcomed sight. Coffee and water appeased everyone while bananas, cookies and other snacks soothed hunger until the Turkey Day indulgence later on.

ADVERTISEMENT

Long-sleeved t-shirts adorned with the Gobble Gallop logo were befitting.

My only complaint is that they were handed out before the race. I've always felt that one should finish to earn a shirt. But that's me and I understand that distributing them beforehand makes it easier for the organizers.

What struck me most were the number of "twenty-somethings" taking part. During the race I noticed an unusually high number in this demographic. Looking at the online results, it was encouraging to confirm this and discover that many are living the Twin Ports area.

Being reasonably tuned to community activities, I've often felt disheartened by the lack of people younger than 35 who get involved. Things like the Gobble Gallop prove they are here. Looking at it now, maybe they're just searching for something to make them stay.

Like it or not, Duluth needs young professionals to sustain our quality of life. We must provide them incentive to live and work here. Too many vibrant people are getting away.

Kudos to the Gobble Gallop. I'll be back next year.

I hope everyone else is.

David LeGarde is a Duluth East Basketball coach and sports aficionado.

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.