Run Your Can Off

Annual fundraising run in Winooski nearly triples success


By Joe Cardello
The Essex Reporter
Karen and Peter Newman, of South Burlington, smile together after completing their fourth lap. DANIELLE LANDRY

Karen and Peter Newman, of South Burlington, smile together after completing their fourth lap.

In 2009 Greg Veltkamp and the Long Trail Running Club hosted their first Run Your Can Off can drive and 69 runners attended. This year the events size almost tripled with 188 runners in attendance for the fifth annual event and piled up enough canned goods and toiletries to fill two truck beds.

Veltkamp and the creator of the Long Trail Running Club – Mike Hall – had wanted to start a long distance running event in Vermont that would be all-inclusive. The idea was formulated into the Run Your Can Off event, which takes place at the Glenbrook Nature Trail in Winooski on a 1.25-mile loop.

“It’s a great event because you can run a lap with some friends, stop and grab some hot chocolate and then run some more with a different group,” Veltkamp said. “We’ve had five runners show up at 2:45 p.m. and just run two laps, and families that show up to do one lap with their 2- and 3-year-olds. Their donations count just as much as the people’s who do the full six hours.”

All of the donations are collected by volunteers and loaded into the back of two pickup trucks. At the end of the day they are all brought over to the food shelf where they can be stored until they are redistributed to those in need. There is no required donation amount and with 28 turkeys donated this year Veltkamp was not displeased with the turnout.

“We ask people to donate on a per lap basis, you know one lap equals one can. Overall though people donate more than they run,” Veltkamp said. “At a certain point we stopped needing to quantify the amount of donations we were getting.

He admitted that during the first couple years of the event the group was overwhelmed with the outpouring of donations and local response. However with the recent expansion of The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf they were able to send volunteers to help manage the event along with the Long Trail Running Club.

“The event is still growing and I’d love to see it continue to grow,” Veltkamp said. “The City of Winooski has been super helpful since year one. More and more people are willing to donate each year and the event seems to have taken on a life of its own.