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Gobblegait 2008: the best yet

Approximately 2,150 runners and walkers participated in Gobblegait this year. Together, $70,000 was raised, along with 3,319 pounds of food.

Gobblegait 2008 will go down in the record books. It was the biggest Gobblegait yet.

There were 2,150 runners/walkers at the event, held in downtown Hastings Thanksgiving morning. That's about 200 more participants than last year.

That means that Hastings Family Service will receive a check from Gobblegait organizers for $70,000. It's a big shot in the arm for the local food shelf, and it's coming at a time when demand at HFS is going up.

And there's more good news. Donations of food were through the roof this year. On Monday morning, HFS finally finished organizing the donations. This year, they totalled 3,319 pounds. That's 1,694 more pounds than was donated last year.

"In a year that we see the economy doing what it is doing, it's good to know people still understand there are people who need help," said Mary Fasbender, one of the organizers. "The wonderful thing was, we thought we'd be down in our sponsorships, and we were up. That was the great thing."

For HFS, Gobblegait means the world. The $70,000 donation makes up about 12 percent of their annual revenue.

"We are so blessed to be supported by such a successful event," HFS executive director Chris Koop said. "I think this year was the best ever. Amazing."

This year, Gobblegait organizers Fasbender, Brian Radke and Jay Kochendorfer got the food drive started early. Boxes to collect donations were placed throughout Hastings. So, by the time Gobblegait started, 1,000 pounds of food had already been collected. The donations on the morning of Thanksgiving were overwhelming, too.

"The trailer down there was just heaping," Fasbender said. "It was just amazing how people came forward with their goods for family services."

This was the 11th annual Gobblegait.

The winner on the men's side was Ryan Meisser, who finished the 8K run in 24 minutes, 35 seconds.

On the women's side, Brooke Beskau won with a time of 30:12.