Santa Cause 5K Toy Trot

MURRAY — Events and activities have been few and far between in Murray since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in late March.

However, there is going to be one on Saturday morning, one that is under the umbrella of one of the top fundraising machines in the Murray-Calloway County community the past several years. It is the Santa Cause 5K Toy Trot, a product of the powerful Towing for Toys drive that is guided by Max’s 641 Towing and Service.

it is set to start at 8 a.m. Saturday near the tennis courts of Murray High School on Johnson Boulevard.

“We’re giving it our best shot,” said Max’s 641 owner Monty McCuiston, who said, understandably, the  race has been slow to generate registrants. “As of (Monday) morning, we have 30 runners signed up. We’ve been promoting it heavy on running websites and social media, so we’re hoping to get a good last-minute run going here in the next few days.

“We wish things were a little better, but with the circumstances of the virus and everything that’s going on with it, it’s kind of put a damper on things, and that goes for everything. It’s not just our charity events in the community, but everything in general.”

For Towing for Toys, Saturday’s event marks the debut of just its latest addition to a family of special events that have developed in the past few years, designed to bolster the Christmas toy drive’s financial condition. For the past three years, it has hosted both the Toypalooza concert and the Towing for Toys Truck Pull, both of which appear to have gained momentum with each passing year.

All told, last year’s collection alone resulted in more than $35,000 raised and about 7,500 items donated, both records.

“We’re going to need a little extra momentum this year with the way the economy is with the virus and stuff,” McCuiston said. “We’ve got a lot of families out of work so there’s going to be much more of a need this year. Hopefully, we can count on people to help us out.

“This is our first year to try the 5K. We had a lot of interest the last year or two with people suggesting for us to do a 5K or a half-marathon of some sort. So we thought, ‘Hey! We’re always looking to do different things to keep things moving, why not?’ Unfortunately, with the way the pandemic has hit, it’s not been what we hoped.”

Still, there is time. McCuiston stressed that the regular registration fee of $44 begins increasing after 11:59 p.m. Thursday. The financial goal of the race is $1,000 and it was only about a quarter of the way to that Monday afternoon. All race information is available at runsignup.com.

This race is being divided into two styles. There is the conventional version, where runners can run the same course together. There is also a virtual version in which participants can run their own 5K course and record their times away from the rest of the runners.

McCuiston said social distancing will be of utmost importance.

“We will be enforcing social distancing the morning of the race. Now, once it gets started, we don’t anticipate everybody running on top of each other anyway, but, before the race and after the race, we will be trying to do our best to enforce mask wearing. We will encourage this at the registration table and near the starting line,” he said. “Now, with the virtual race, you’re on your own and on your own time, so you submit your times to the website.

“I’m not 100% sure how the virtual race works, but from what I do know from Jeff Sparks, our guy with Mid South Race Timing which is spearheading this for us, you need to run on an actual road or something (not a treadmill). Everything with the virtual race is the same as the main race. There will still be T-shirts, you’ll receive a medal for participating and you’ll still be able to get awards. We’re hoping to encourage that a bit. Of the 30 we have registered right now, eight have signed up to do it virtually.”