26th Annual Gobble Gait a huge success

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 11/30/23

Hastings Family Service (HFS) has been the benefactor of the Gobble Gait race for 26 years. Think about that for a moment, Gobble Gait has been around for 26 years, incredible. Each year, it seems …

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26th Annual Gobble Gait a huge success


Hastings Family Service (HFS) has been the benefactor of the Gobble Gait race for 26 years. Think about that for a moment, Gobble Gait has been around for 26 years, incredible. Each year, it seems the event is becoming stronger and stronger while raising desperately-needed funds to do great things for the residents of Hastings.

“We will come very close to meeting the $2 million mark this year, and next year we will surpass two million,” said an excited Amy Sutton, Hastings Family Service Director.

Nearly $2 million were raised in 26 years of Gobble Gait registrations. What an amazing accomplishment.

“Last year was a gift of $128,000. This year, we have very strong registrations, so there's no reason to think it won't be somewhere near that. $128,000 is a really big deal for a small nonprofit like Hastings Family Service,” added Sutton.

That gift is needed more than ever now with nearly a 65 percent increase in families helped by food programs at HFS. The best part of the funds raised by Gobble Gait is that the money stays in Hastings to help Hastings residents.

“The sponsors are so important. The businesses just get behind this event and make a really big difference. It really takes all of us, the sponsors, the volunteers, the organizers, and the whole community comes out. My favorite part is just seeing the families and the dogs. We get runners and we get families, and a lot of people that have this as their family tradition for Thanksgiving,” explained Sutton.

A full list of sponsors can be found on page 3.

Sutton submitted the final numbers on Monday for registrants. They had a total of almost 3,000 registrations and those numbers were almost perfectly split for registrations between the 8k and 2k events. Once you

include the family members that were on the shared registrations, 3,985 people checked in to receive their event bibs.

The impact of the event was witnessed Thursday morning when an estimated 5,000 people descended downtown including participants, volunteers, sponsors, event staff and fans. The start of the 8k race saw runners filter through the start/finish gate for a solid two minutes, and 2k walk participants were active for nearly the same time the 8k runners were. A very fun part of the event is standing at the finish line watching everyone cross with not only a feeling of accomplishment but pride in helping the community. The overwhelming majority of the folks crossing the finish line have huge smiles on their faces. Gobble Gait is truly a sight to behold because words do not do justice to the sheer number of people that come out, regardless of weather, to support the Hastings community.

Gobble Gait has also inspired other groups to help out HFS. The Hastings Fire Department has been raising funds the last few years to donate during Gobble Gait, and this year, the Hometown Ace Hardware folks held a food drive/fundraiser at Westview Mall after the race by giving away pizza, see that story on page _____.

There are some very cool annual traditions for the Gobble Gait, and one of the neatest ones is the Raider wrestling team’s tradition. The team comes out early and helps get things set up, with an early morning being up at 4:30 to be on site by 5:30 a.m. Then around 8:00 a.m., they meet under the bridge to take a group photo before they go to take their place at the front of the pack. If memory serves correctly, the expectation of Head Coach Tim Hanneberg is that the wrestlers lead the pack as a team at least to the bridge.

The race itself is technically timed for those who want to run competitively, but there is no official time kept. The first three finishers for both male and female runners are awarded a gift card and an additional piece of Gobble Gait memorabilia, but the true winners are Hastings Family Service and the Hastings community.

This year’s top three finishers were: Men’s – Nick Ross, James Sorenson and Trevor Lavigne. Women’s – Laura Jorgenson, Ruthie Wolkerstorfer and McKenzi Burk.

“Mayor Mary Fasbender, Jay Kochendorfer and Brian Radke and his family have built the Gobble Gait tradition in Hastings for the past 26 years and Hastings Family Service has been able to grow and respond to changing community needs because of it. We won’t know the final totals for a couple of weeks, but this was definitely one of our biggest Gobble Gaits ever,” said Sutton.

According to Sutton, new presenting sponsors this year, Edward Jones – Abra Hovgaard agency and North American Banking Company, along with all of the sponsors, volunteers and participants made Gobble Gait a huge success.