Sacramento’s 25th annual Run to Feed the Hungry is scheduled to proceed as planned Thanksgiving morning, amid rain or lingering wildfire smoke if necessary.
The charity event’s webpage acknowledges the tragic Camp Fire and its effect on Northern California air quality, but the organizing Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services says it is not able to reschedule. Instead, potential participants are advised to decide whether air quality will impact their own individual participation, an alert on the event’s website says.
“We’re hoping to get out in front of as many people as possible to let them know we’re still a go,” Sacramento Food Bank spokeswoman Kelly Siefkin said.
The scope of the event makes it too difficult to reschedule logistically, “just because of the amount of street closures and things like Sac State (not) being in session,” Siefkin said. The run begins at the Sacramento State campus.
Thousands have also already registered for the event, many doing so before wildfire smoke concerns arose.
The region has suffered for more than a week from bad air quality conditions created by the deadly Camp Fire burning in Butte County, which seem to have peaked last Thursday and Friday. Air Quality Index readings hit near-record levels Thursday, and remained in “unhealthy” ranges through the weekend and into Monday, according to federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.
Weather forecasts predict the first significant rain in Sacramento since May this week, starting Wednesday. Those same rainy conditions throughout Northern California are expected to dissipate wildfire smoke, but may also introduce problems, including a possibility of mudslides in fire-scarred zones.
Given those conditions, but with the forecast outlook improving by midweek, dozens of users commenting on Run to Feed the Hungry’s social media channels gave mixed responses to the food bank’s plans to stay the course, which it first announced Friday.
Some criticized the decision to keep the event going despite health impacts on runners and volunteers. Others defended the choice, noting that planning for the Run to Feed the Hungry continues almost year-round and that no one has to participate if they don’t want to.
Siefkin noted that users can pledge or donate to the food bank for the occasion even if they won’t be able to physically run or attend the Run to Feed the Hungry.
Some similar charity runs will not proceed, according to the events’ official websites. Yuba City’s Hand of Hope Turkey Trot, set for Tuesday, has been canceled without a reschedule date.
The Davis Turkey Trot had to be postponed due to smoky air. Originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17, it will now be run Dec. 8 at 8 a.m.
The Folsom Turkey Trot and Lincoln’s Huffin’ for the Stuffin’ run will proceed as planned on Thanksgiving morning. The Granite Bay Turkey Trot is tentatively planned to proceed, but will be canceled with 48 hours’ notice if AQI levels are forecast for 100 or higher, according to the event’s website.
Thursday will mark the 25th Run to Feed the Hungry in Sacramento. Last year’s event set a record with a total of 29,604 participants.
The charity run is always a rain-or-shine deal, but Siefkin says it has rained only one time in the event’s history, in 2011. That year was a success, Siefkin said. “We know it’s possible with rain.”
The National Weather Service predicts it will rain in Sacramento on Wednesday, day and night, with a chance of rain Thanksgiving Day as well.
Run to Feed the Hungry includes 5K and 10K races, beginning at the 6000 J St. entrance of Sacramento State. The 10K starts at 8:15 a.m. Thursday. The 5K starts at 9 a.m.
Registration remains available online at www.runtofeedthehungry.com until 7 p.m. Wednesday.
With Butte County inundated by physical donations, most relief efforts in the devastated area are asking for monetary donations rather than food or physical goods.