NEW ALBANY — Fred Geswein has been involved in cross country and track and field most of his life, as a participant, coach and official. His resume is impressive and there is not much left to be achieved.
It’s the little things now that keep him motivated each year as he organizes his annual Fast Freddie’s Festive Five-Mile Foot Feast.
Geswein said the race has become a family homecoming for many, whether they live in Southern Indiana or natives who come home each year for Thanksgiving.
“I’ve gotten a lot of support from a lot of people,” Geswein said. “It’s the enthusiasm and support from the community that keeps me involved. It’s kind of like a holiday homecoming for people. I had a call this week from someone far away who said their family gets together and runs this race every year. I hear that from a lot of people.”
The 31st annual Fast Freddie’s will begin at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving at the Floyd County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2818 Green Valley Road in New Albany. The five-mile race will head down Green Valley Road to Mount Tabor Road, travel north to Grant Line Road. Runners will then race through Sam Peden Community Park to Schell Lane, down Schell to Daisy Lane, turn right on Daisy to Green Valley Road and finish where they began, at the 4-H Fairgrounds.
There is also a 2.75 mile walking course through Community Park.
Last year, 790 runners finished the race, which is a few more than the 124 that were there that first year. Geswein said “numbers-wise we are at the point where we were last year.” He expects more people will register on Wednesday, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the 4-H Fairgrounds, and on Thanksgiving, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the same location.
Participation in smaller races and events nationwide have been on the decline in recent years, according to Geswein, since people now have more options to be active. While this year’s race may not top 2015 of 966 finishers, he expects over 800 will take off from the starting line Thursday. He said his race is still popular with the Southern Indiana running community.
“It’s a competitive course that people seem to enjoy,” he said. “I always hope it’s both a safe and fast race.”
The course record was set by Rob Mullett in 2015, when he finished the race in 23 minutes, 30 seconds. Sarah Pease holds the woman’s record of 27:12, which was set in 2017.
Geswein said the race has something for every level of runner — from the competitive racers to the weekend joggers.
Early registration has ended, but it’s still not too late to sign up. The late registration fee is $40 and there will be a limited number of shirts available.
Not only can runners register Wednesday from 3 to 6 at the Fairgrounds, race packets and shirts can also be picked up by those who have pre-registered.
Part of the proceeds from the race go to Type 1 diabetes education at Baptist Health Floyd. In the last 10 years, Geswein has donated $100,000 to the education program at the Joslin Diabetes Center.