Hobble/Gobble Run-Walk Traditions Continue
BY DAVE SHEA
Runners and walkers in Saturday's Hobble/Gobble Prediction Run-Walk at the West Potsdam Fire Hall will see some new faces in familiar places.
And one very familiar face, the face of the race, in a different place.
Derry Loucks, who directed race for the past 21 years and built it into the largest road race in St. Lawrence County, will no longer be a fixture at the finish line greeting finishers until he crosses the finish after running the race for the first time.
Following last year's race Loucks turned over the directorship to Jacqueline Bill of Canton who also directs the Gobbler Gallop in Heuvelton on Thanksgiving Day.
"It is almost like a full time directing the Hobble/Gobble but I think things will go well. Some of the volunteers who helped Derry for many years did not return but another group of volunteers have stepped forward," said Jacqueline Bill on Monday while sorting door prizes at her home.
"Most of the things will be the same. We will have bands and a DJ on the course and we will have the same type of food. Chili, bagels, coffee and the Dairy Princess will be there handing out chocolate milk."
Bill said that she is definitely continuing the Hobble Gobble Outstanding Service to Running Award and she was happy to announce that it would go to Derry Loucks.
"Derry was the second person to sign up for the race," said Bill.
One major change will be race day registration from 9:30-10:30 a.m., 45 minutes before the 11:15 a.m. starting time. The entry fee is $40and T-shirts will available with first come first serve sizing. Participants can register online at https://bit.ly/2kJCsE0.
As of Monday Bill said that 323 participants had registered and that 550 participants could be accomodated.
In the 21 years that Loucks and his group of volunteers coordinated the event it grew into a major fund-raiser to aid the disadvantaged at Christmas time. The major beneficiary is the Potsdam Holiday Fund and donations are also made each year to food pantries all over the north country. Last year’s event featured a field of 499, raised $16,000 and elevated the 21-year total to $180,800.
Bill related the Potsdam Holiday Fund would remain as a major beneficiary from the race and that local charities will again be supported.
"We did very well from the Gouverneur area so will also be making a donation to the Gouverneur Fight Breast Cancer Fund," said Bill.
Loucks related his stepping down from the director’s role and joining the field of runners and walkers was a natural progression in the history of the Hobble Gobble Prediction Run-Walk.
Thirty-five years ago it was started by Jim Halpen as the Madrid Prediction run in 198 and moved to Lisbon in 1991 with Wayne and Janet Moore as the organizers. In 1998 Loucks took the helm and renamed it the Hobble/Gobble Prediction Run-Walk.
“I had a vision of taking this event and making it the biggest in area. I wanted to reach 500 participants and we did that. I wanted it to become a regional event and an event the north country could call its own. Three years ago I expressed my desire to step down and Jacqueline Bill came forward,” said Loucks when announcing the change of directors last November.
“Jacqueline approached me again last year, we talked about it and I am very confident she will do a great job. She is really energized and a very good administrator.”