Organizers of the ninth annual Gift-of-Life Marathon Blood Drive are voicing cautious optimism as they prepare for a run at the national one-day blood drive record Dec. 20 in Rutland. ‘We have more than 1,800 appointments so far, but we still have a long way to go to actually break the record,’ said Central Vermont Public Service spokesman Steve Costello, one of the organizers. ‘The record is 1,968 pints, and to do that we’ll need about 2,200 or 2,300 people to show up.’ The event, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be held at the Paramount Theatre, American Legion Post 31, and the College of St. Joseph gymnasium. Appointments can be made by calling 800-RED-CROSS or at www.giftoflifemarathon.com(link is external). The event is sponsored by CVPS and WJJR. WJJR’s Terry Jaye said he thinks Rutland County can break the record. ‘The spirit we saw after Hurricane Irene gives me confidence that we can do this,’ he said. ‘This area is full of good people who rise to the occasion time and time again.’ Donating blood is virtually painless. The process includes a short medical history, and a mini-physical, including blood pressure, pulse, temperature and an iron check. The donation itself typically lasts five to 8 minutes. Organizers offered the following tips to help ensure a smooth, efficient process:All donors must have a photo driver’s license, passport or Red Cross blood card, or two forms of ID.While we urge anyone who can make an appointment to do so, walk-ins will be welcome at all three sites.If you plan to walk-in, please consider a less-popular time, as the start and finish are typically crowded.Appointments are critically important to keeping a smooth flow ‘ BUT if you have an appointment and can’t make it, please cancel so someone else can use it.Parking will be free from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in the state garage on West Street.First-time donors (and others) should be sure to drink lots of fluids the day before and the day of the drive, and eat a good breakfast (and lunch, depending on the donation time).Donors should wear a loose-fitting shirt with sleeves that can be easily rolled up.If you are not sure if you are eligible, visit http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements(link is external). The Gift-of-Life Marathon has broken the New England one-day blood drive record three straight years, but lost the record to Manchester, N.H, this fall, when Manchester also set the national record.