Seven years after Meredith Hatch was struck down by a driver as she trained on her bicycle, the running event that honors her name every year is bigger than ever.
Miles for Meredith organizers expect more than 2,000 runners for the 5K and 1K races Saturday morning, well up from 350 people for the inaugural event in 2008.
The short run kicks off at 8 a.m. and the longer one at 8:30 a.m. on the Mansfield high school campus, 3001 E. Broad St., and will proceed through neighborhoods to the north and east of the campus.
Vendors, music, food and more will round out the entertainment after the races, said organizer Linda Jones. Runners who want to be timed can request a running bib imbedded with a tracking chip. The awards ceremony is at 9:30 a.m.
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“Last year we had a little over 1,900 people,” said Jones. “Our numbers right now look like we definitely will do over 2,000.”
Despite the registration fees of $12 for students and $15 for parents and other adults – which Jones called “the cheapest around” – last year’s activities managed to generate $40,000, which includes contributions from sponsors.
Many runners will be in teams representing Mansfield schools. The cash prizes ranging from $1,250 for first place and $400 for fourth will be paid to the schools, which is traditionally earmarked for the schools’ running clubs, Jones said.
The money raised, according to the Meredith Hatch Foundation’s website, “will benefit causes that were near and dear to Meredith’s heart.”
Jones said this year, Miles for Meredith plans to donate $5,000 to the Mansfield ISD Education Foundation, which gives grants to teachers who want to try innovative instruction techniques in their classes. Hatch served on that foundation’s board, one of her many volunteer efforts.
The Hatch Foundation buys several hundred bicycles each year to distribute to needy kids.
“She was really big into the community,” Jones said, noting that Hatch also was a Rotary Club member. She owned the Primrose Primary School, a private pre-school with two campuses in Mansfield and Grand Prairie.
For more information about Miles for Meredith, registration and route map, go to www.themeredithhatchfoundation.org
An opportunity for a pre-emptive strike against the impending calories of Thanksgiving dinner takes place early that morning.
The inaugural Mansfield Turkey Trot kicks off with a 1K Fun Run at 7 a.m., 10K run at 7:30 a.m. and a 5K run at 7:45 a.m. on Nov. 27. All will leave from and return to the Mansfield Activities Center, 106 S. Wisteria St.
Registration fees are $17, $25 and $35 for the shortest run to the longest, respectively, plus a roughly 10 percent surcharge by the online service that is conducting the registration process. All registration is online, and there will be internet access at the event for last-minute sign-ups.
There’s more information at www.MansfieldTurkeyTrot.com.
Ronald Chesko, an Irving-based event organizer who is co-hosting the Turkey Trot with RunFAR Racing Services Inc., said 300 people have already signed up.
“I think we’re looking at between 500 and 700, which would be great, because we were planning to be in the red because it’s a first event,” he said.
Although the event is a for-profit venture, it will donate about 25 percent of proceeds to Mansfield Cares and to Mansfield city parks – if it does better than break even, Chesko said.
He’s optimistic. Scheduling a running event on the traditional holiday of binge eating isn’t necessarily a recipe success.
“You’d be surprised,” he said. “I think there’s definitely an audience for it. It’s something you can take your family out for. It’s something that’s quick enough as an event that you really could get back home in time to eat and watch Cowboys football.”