Tuesday marks the online registration deadline for the Berbee Derby, the fifth annual Thanksgiving Day 10-kilometer run and 5K run/walk to benefit Berbee's Technology Education Fund, which generates hardware and software for non-profits in need.
Part race and part exuberant holiday parade at a brisk pace, the Berbee Derbee is one of those Madison run-walk events that -- like the old Vilas Running Club's 10-kilometer Freezeroo around Lake Wingra on or about Valentine's Day, or the Lake Monona 20K -- makes the most of a distinctive holiday and/or setting.
Beginning with a shotgun start scheduled for 9 a.m., the event features competition in age groups from 14 and under to 60 and over, at five-year intervals. The course begins near the Fitchburg Center and traverses a route dominated by woodlands and prairies adjacent to part of the Capitol City Trail.
At the front of the pack, the Berbee Derby presents hot competition for the area's best runners -- and those who are visiting their families in and around Madison for the holidays. UW cross-country and track distance coach Jerry Schumacher, who has since taken a coaching post with Oregon-based Team Nike, won last year's 10K in 32 minutes, 48 seconds to edge out Badger distance alums and training partners Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky, who both clocked 32:50 and are following Schumacher to Oregon, where they'll train for his Nike squad. With more than 1,000 participants in the 10K and some 1,500 in the 5K, you have to clock a pretty urgent time to make the podium in any age group.
Further back in the field, the Berbee Derby shifts to the high-spirited tone of a classic turkey trot. Some entrants are more concerned with donning an amusing costume than posting a sizzling time. This renders the Berbee Derby the sort of run/walk that can accommodate hot competition, but also smiles, laughter, jogging-speed conversations and anyone who might want to give thanks for the opportunity to burn a few hundred calories as preface to sitting down at a table with family and friends for a more traditional Thanksgiving celebration.
Entry fees are $25 per person, and while race-day registration "is available from 7:30-8:45 a.m." on Thursday, November 27, organizers not, it "is not guaranteed," and Derby t-shirts and goody bags will be available to race-day registrants only while supplies last.