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November 26, 2013

Fast Freddie's is a Thanksgiving tradition in New Albany

Record field expected for 25th annual 5-miler to benefit diabetes education

NEW ALBANY — Fred Geswein is at the starting line. He is anxious, ready to go. Thursday can’t get here quick enough.

“I am ready to put this on now,” Geswein said. “I’ve spent so much time getting ready, and have so much more to do. I want to put on a good show ... I am jumpy. It’s showtime.”

Indeed it is. For the 25th consecutive Thanksgiving morning, Fred Geswein’s Fast Freddie’s Festive Five-Mile Foot Feast will take over the New Albany streets. The race, which began in 1989 with 189 runners, now attracts more than 1,000. Many come back each year not only to visit with family and friends, but to run Fast Freddie’s.

“We look at it as a New Albany homecoming,” Geswein said. “Many come back for this event.”

The 5-mile race begins and ends at the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds along Green Valley Road in New Albany. The race starts promptly at 9 a.m. Runners can still register for the race, or pick up their packets, from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the fairgrounds, or prior to 8:30 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.

Geswein said the race attracts all types of runners, from the elite to those just out for a holiday jog. He said the people are what keep him coming back each year.

“I never envisioned in 1989 that there would be a 25th race,” he said. “I always took a year at a time until it got to 10. What helps me so much is that the community has embraced it. That is my motivation right now. There is so much interest and enthusiasm among the competitors and the people who help. So many people enjoy it.”

Chuck Crowley is one of those people. Crowley, an avid runner and the cross country coach at Providence High School, has participated in 24 of the 25 Fast Freddie’s. Like Geswein, he said the race attracts all types of runners.

“Great way to start the holiday,” Crowley said. “Gives people the ability to brag to their relatives while they are stuffing themselves at dinner. [You] burn a lot of calories so you can eat more later in the day. Challenging course, well managed and accurate.”

Last year 1,050 people registered for the run, so Geswein said he will break that record this year.  Late registration fee is $35 and there is a limited number of shirts available. The majority of the proceeds from the race benefit the Type 1 Diabetes Education Program at Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services.

New this year, runners will be given a racing chip to attach to their shoe which must stay on during the race and through the finish. The chip allows everything to be done automatically. Geswein said he had to raise his pre-registration fee $2 this year to help cover the cost of the chip.

“I think it’s the right way to go. Everyone wanted the chip,” he said. “We are still losing money with the chip but I wasn’t going to gouge people like most races do.”

The top five male finishers from last year’s race are expected back again this year. Age group awards will be given out after the race along with several door prizes.

Ben Hubers was last year’s overall winner in 23 minutes, 57 seconds while Sarah Pease was the first female finisher in 28:37.

Geswein said the race would not be possible without the cooperation of city officials, the police and fire departments, and street department.

“They have always helped,” he said.

This year’s race is also expected to be one of, if not the coldest on record. Temperatures Thursday morning are expected to be in the low- to mid-20s. In 2000, race time temperature was 24 and in 2002 it was 28. But it’s supposed to be a clear day which should help warm things up, Geswein said.

While reaching 25 is a major milestone, Geswein said he has already started planning next year’s race. He said as long as runners enjoy and support the event, he will continue to put it on.

“I want everyone to run safely, have fun and run fast,” he said. “That is my goal.”

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