Thanksgiving Day Run registration tops 1,000 participants

Published 12:42 pm Thursday, November 18, 2021

NILES — With just under a week remaining to register for the 40th annual YMCA of Greater Michiana’s annual Thanksgiving Day Run, registration numbers have topped the 1,000 mark.

According to Jill Haboush, chief development officer and race director of YMCA of Greater Michiana, more than 1,600 runners and walkers have registered for the Nov. 25 race, which is returning to an in-person format in 2021.

Last year the race was switched to a virtual format due to COVID-19. With health restrictions loosened, YMCA of Greater Michiana officials decided to bring people back to the streets of downtown Niles for the milestone event.

This year’s Thanksgiving Day Run shirts feature the original logo. The race is celebrating its 40th anniversary. (Submitted photo)

Although the race will change how it finishes, much of the day will return to the format that runners and walkers are used to. The 10K Run is scheduled to begin at 7:45 a.m., while the 5K run, 5K walk and one-mile Fun Run will all begin at 9:15 p.m.

After running the event virtually last year, the decision was made to allow people to still participate in the Thanksgiving Day Run the same way. The virtual run and walk can be completed anywhere and at any time between Nov. 25 and Dec. 5. Participants may run in their local neighborhoods, in a park, or even on a treadmill. Once finished, runners and walkers must upload their information to an online racing platform. They are also encouraged to share their race photos on social media with the hashtag #2021TDR.

One of the changes to the finish will be that participants will not be gathering inside before or after the race so that social distancing can be maintained.

Haboush said the Y expects more runners and walkers to sign up before the Nov. 23 deadline.

“We have been planning for about 1,800, knowing that our typical year is about 2,400,” she said. “According to our timing company, most races were getting about 70 percent of their typical participation. But I think we are going to exceed that since we are still about a week out.”

Haboush said everyone is excited about the number of sponsors who have signed up for the race. She noted that the race shirts, which are adorned with the original Thanksgiving Day Run logo for the 40th anniversary, will arrive Friday.

“We are getting our race bags ready and some goodies to hand out,” Haboush said. “Everyone is just really excited.”

Participants will be able to come into the YMCA to pick up their race packets through Wednesday. Race-day morning everyone will be kept outside. There will be one major start for the 10K and the 5K races as normal, but a new finish will promote physical distancing.

This year’s finish will be on Dey Street behind the YMCA with a walk around the block to Third Street to Pokagon Street to Second Street, where there will be refreshments.

“[There are] a few safety/health protocols in place, but for the most part, we are back on track for a traditional run this year,” Haboush said.

Cost is $35 per person or $30 per person for households with more than two participants. Late registration, Nov. 24, or race day is $40. To register, go to ymcagm.org/TDR. All runners and walkers, including those doing the event virtually, will receive a race bib and t-shirts. To register, go to runsignup.com/Race/MI/Niles/NilesThanksgivingDayRun.

Proceeds go to support a multitude of YMCA programs, including water safety, youth sports, Summer My Way day camp, Y-Club and before and after school care, among others.