• Cashiers resident Elizabeth Fletcher guides a two Bernese mountain dog cart-pulling team, including her “Berner,” Keeper, left, and his “girlfriend,” Jillian, as they participate in a special Nov. 4 draft test in Anderson, South Carolina. The pair went on to pass the test, which was part of a Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America regional meet. (Photo by Don Richeson.)
    Cashiers resident Elizabeth Fletcher guides a two Bernese mountain dog cart-pulling team, including her “Berner,” Keeper, left, and his “girlfriend,” Jillian, as they participate in a special Nov. 4 draft test in Anderson, South Carolina. The pair went on to pass the test, which was part of a Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America regional meet. (Photo by Don Richeson.)

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By Don Richeson / Staff

CASHIERS -- If you’re staying in Cashiers for Thanksgiving, be prepared to see scores of folks costumed as pilgrims, Indians -- and of course turkeys -- running on village streets. They’ll be the joggers participating in the Gobble On the Green 5K road race. Those entering are encouraged to wear Thanksgiving-theme get-ups (but aren’t required to). An incentive: a prize will be awarded for most creative costume.

The 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22 race starts and finishes at Village Green Commons. The inaugural offering of what is expected to be an annual Cashiers event promises to impress. Race organizer Ann Self, executive director of the Village Green, said last week that registration numbers have already far exceeded her expectations.

The deadline has passed for discount early registration, but you can still register online at https://runsignup.com/GobbleontheGreen5K for $30. Signing up and participating will create some needed space for all the calories coming in later that day.

Among those who have signed up is yours truly. It’s been 20 years since I last ran in a 5K, or 3.1-mile race. In recent weeks, I’ve had a few smooth runs of that distance, according to the Cashiers-Glenville Recreation Center’s cardio machines I use. However, as I discovered in doing a test run Sunday on the actual race route, running on pavement definitely has a more challenging feel to it. My legs Monday felt as if they had 50-pound boulders attached to them. Fortunately, I have more than a week more to prepare.

According to Ann, the race route will go east on Frank Allen Road, then turn south onto Valley Road, the dirt road that runs on the east side of the Ugly Dog restaurant. It will then turn right onto N.C. Highway 107 only briefly before turning onto Cashiers School Road, then west onto Cashiers Lake Road, which is also a dirt road. Runners should use caution as there are multiple potholes capable of swallowing a Prius on the first part of the road. A zig-zag running pattern may be needed.

Continue on around the lake until you reach the public end of the road. I had trouble figuring out exactly where this is. In think it is at the entrance to the Holly Hills subdivision, where Clematis Lane intersects Cashiers Lake Road. After this spot is reached, runners are supposed to turn around and retrace their route back to the Village Green Commons.

Overall, it is an attractive race course with picturesque views of Cashiers Lake. (Actually, the “lake” is part of the Chattooga River that was dammed up in the 1920s to form the centerpiece in a housing development that never happened). Despite southern Jackson County’s reputation as a super-mountainous place, the race route is almost completely flat -- the worst hill is at the very start of the run -- the stretch of Frank Allen Road between the Village Green and Ugly Dog.

Even if you don’t want to enter, consider coming out to see the costumes and cheer the runners on. There’s plenty of time later in the day for turkey time. There was a handful of cheering folks on the sidelines at the start of the Tour de Cashiers 5K back in September and it was a nice touch in presenting Cashiers as a friendly, welcoming place to all the visitors who participate.

•••

When I talked with Cashiers resident Elizabeth Fletcher last week, she was planning on purchasing a shiny big red bowtie for Keeper, her Bernese mountain dog movie star. The pair were planning to attend a red carpet premiere gala for “Instant Family” in Los Angeles this past Sunday. That’s the new Mark Wahlberg movie Keeper stars in as “Meatball.” “I’m a little nervous, but excited,” Elizabeth had at the time said about the prospect of rubbing elbows with various celebrities.

Apparently though, around the time Elizabeth and Keeper were leaving Saturday from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, she received word from Paramount Pictures that the LA red carpet event was canceled due to the massive fires that have burned up hundreds of thousands of acres in southern California. According to news reports, the fires, as of Monday, had killed more than two dozen people and destroyed 6,700 structures, including the homes of Neil Young, Robin Thicke, Gerard Butler and Miley Cyrus.

“In light of the ongoing, active fires being battled in the area, we have cancelled tomorrow’s red carpet and afterparty of the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Instant Family,’” read the Paramount notice she posted on her Facebook page. “We will move forward with the screening, as a number of foster youths and organizations working in the foster community will be in attendance. Food intended for the after party will be donated to the American Red Cross, which is providing aid to victims of the fires. Additionally, we will be screening the film at an evacuation center for victims of the fires -- location to be confirmed. Our hearts go out to those impacted.”

Elizabeth later posted a link to a videoclip. It showed Keeper wearing his bowtie, interacting with California children at the evacuation center that showed “Instant Family.” It was heartwarming to view -- Cashiers’ canine rep bringing comfort to fire weary folks on the other side of the country -- both on screen and in person.

(Don Richeson is editor of the Crossroads Chronicle. He lives in southern Jackson County. Email him at editor@CrossroadsChronicle.com.)

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