While some people are planning their Thanksgiving meals, others are training and lacing up their sneakers for the 2012 Johnson City Up & At ’Em Turkey Trot.
The seventh annual 5K road race and family fitness walk is back for more community-oriented fun this year, starting at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
The starting line of the 5K race will begin in an L-shaped form, with runners beginning on East State of Franklin Road and the walkers on Legion Street.
“We’ve had to change the starting line twice because now the staging area to start the race is too big for Legion Street. We just can’t put that many people in that area, so we’ve had to move it out on State of Franklin Road, where now we have five lanes,” said Jenny Brock, co-founder and co-chair of the event. “We have a great course and it goes through downtown and through our Tree Street area. It’s relatively flat for around here. It’s a good flat course and it has a very welcome environment.”
Brock and Jane Myron, co-chair of the Turkey Trot, said they’ve seen a lot of growth in the seven years they’ve been involved with the event and expect record numbers this year.
“We’re on a trajectory right now to have well over 4,000 (participants) this year and it has really become what I call the place to be on Thanksgiving morning. It’s a big social event,” Brock said. “If you want to come and race hard you can. If you want to come and sashay through the course and push a baby stroller and lead your dog, you can do that, too.”
Myron said that for people originally from around the Johnson City area it gives them a chance to reconnect with old friends during the holiday.
“The people that are from here, it’s a huge class reunion for everybody,” she said.
The event has a timed category for the competitive runners and a non-timed category for recreational walkers to choose from when registering.
A new addition this year is the Wheel Chair Division, mirroring the main event by having the two-part competitive and recreational fitness levels. The wheelchair participants will begin their portion of the Turkey Trot five minutes prior to the runners and walkers.
Trot participants also can sign up to race on behalf of a school. When registering, runners/walkers can select or write in a school of their choice, and the top three participating schools with the most entries win $1,000 for first place, $500 for second place and $250 for third place.
There are two school divisions, a small division of student enrollment of 799 and below and large division of 800 and more.
And with an event this size, volunteers are a must.
“It usually takes about 100-plus volunteers to pull this off and we never have any trouble getting them,” Brock said.
Participants can also bring their dogs to run or walk with them, and each one will receive a scarf donated by Appalachian Animal Hospital.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and planning and I think the atmosphere that we give to the Trot … I think that’s what the city needs,” she said. “It’s just a happy time and that’s what we need more of is people smiling.”
The early registration deadline for the Trot is tonight at midnight. Participants who early register are guaranteed a long-sleeve event shirt and are able to get the discounted registration fee of $20.
After tonight, the fee goes up to $25 and online registration for the event will end at midnight Sunday.
The last chance to register will be on Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Legion Recreation Center.
For more information, registration and race guidelines, visit twww.jcturkeytrot.org.