Get your costumes ready, because the 2018 Monster Mile is coming up in a month’s time.

The sixth annual Monster Mile, presented by the Milton Independent and Champlain Valley News Group, is set for Saturday, Oct. 20. The fundraiser will now include a stretch on Route 7, bringing your spooky, silly and spectacular costumes to the forefront.

This year, we’re starting and ending both our mile and 5K at Milton Recreation’s new fieldhouse at Bombardier Park West. The new facility, which includes a sheltered pavilion and indoor restrooms, will provide a much more comfortable and weather-resistant area for our guests, because as we all know, Vermont weather is nothing if not unpredictable.

Monster Mile and our generous sponsor, New England Federal Credit Union, will again support the Milton Family Community Center with the Food from the Heart collection. Last year, we donated more than 500 pounds of food to the shelf, which is consistently in need.

MFCC food shelf manager Kelly Hughes said the center has struggled this year.

“Our donations have been down,” she said. “We have had considerable periods of time with empty shelves. I would say the last five months we have just barely been getting by.”

MFCC data shows the food shelf served nearly 1,550 people last fiscal year, more than double what MFCC reported last year and an amount representing more than 10 percent of Milton’s population.

Hughes said MFCC must have underreported the numbers in last year’s annual report, which said nearly 740 people got help at the food shelf. The more recent total shows an average of four people a day got food aid at the Villemaire Ln. location.

“It is a massive number,” Hughes said.

Though the Mile comes just before the holiday season — when MFCC gets its most donations — Hughes said the need is constant, not just in the winter.

“When people are not adequately fed, they are often not able to work and go to school and be a contributing member of our society,” she said. [The food shelf is] feeding people and helping them … contribute to our community.”

Emboldened by these sobering facts, our milers and runners will take off in staggered start times from the fieldhouse around 2:30 p.m. They’ll progress up Park Place to the intersection with Bombardier Road.

Here, our milers and runners will split: Milers will take a left up Bombardier, and runners will veer right, following last year’s path for the 5K.

The mile route continues down Route 7, past Building Home Center and Kinney Drugs and take a right onto Centre Drive. They’ll traverse the sidewalked street, winding back to Bombardier. Volunteers will help them cross the road before continuing past the municipal building and back to the start.

Meanwhile, runners will make their way to a more residential part of town. They’ll continue from Bombardier onto Hobbs Road, eventually taking a right onto Griswold Drive. What follows is a big loop around Woodcrest Circle, Pinecrest Drive, Kingswood Drive and back to Woodcrest and Griswold before heading back to the start.

The 5K is self-timed and will be well-marked with signage and our helpful volunteers.

Back at the finish, we’ll award prizes for the best men’s, women’s, boy’s, girl’s, group and pet costumes. Mini goats from D&M Goat Farm will entertain visitors while the judges tally their final marks.

We’ll also have a live broadcast and tunes from Star 92.9.

This year’s Mile is brought to you by NEFCU, Consolidated Communications, Northwestern Urgent Care, NG Advantage, Husky, Milton Ace Hardware and Vermont Gas. We thank them for their support.

Hughes, an annual Mile volunteer, urged Miltonians to attend the event and bring non-perishable goods: Basic shelf-stable staples are best, like canned tuna, peanut butter, cereal and boxed macaroni and cheese. She’s seen increasing requests for gluten-free items, too.

“It brings the need to the forefront for people and keeps that awareness,” Hughes said of Monster Mile’s efforts. “You’re certainly going to reach a larger group of people and people that I might not, on a regular basis, be able to reach.”

Registration begins at 2 p.m., and the event starts promptly at 2:30 p.m. Online sign-up is available at www.miltonindependent.com/monstermile. Tickets: $10/adult, $15/adult couple, $25/family of four + $5/additional person, $5/member of youth group, team, Scouts, etc.

The price increases $5 at the door, so sign up today! We’ll see you at the Mile.