With the temperature in the high teens a crowd still managed to make it to the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot race. The race started at 8:30 a.m. on State of Franklin Road at Legion Street. (Lee Talbert/Johnson City Press)
While people were at home preheating ovens and prepping for their annual Thanksgiving Day feast, many Johnson Citians could be seen jogging downtown near Legion Street before the start of the 8th annual Johnson City Up & At ’Em Turkey Trot 5K Thursday morning.
Competitive and recreational runners, walkers, children and even a few dogs, waited inside the Legion Street Parks and Recreation Center starting around 7 a.m. to escape the frigid 18-20 degree temperatures outside. Among those awaiting the event’s start were one man and his son who weren’t going to let the weather keep them from running in their kilts during the Turkey Trot.
“His mother’s family is Scottish, the McDonald clan, and my family comes from a Crawford clan,” Thomas Moore, said. “It’s kind of fun. He’s (Jonathan) the one who got the kilt first.”
In from Jacksonsville, Fla., Moore said he and Jonathan, as well as his other son, Daniel, were in Johnson City to celebrate Thanksgiving with his mother and decided to run the holiday race.
“I’m here with my two sons, who are both off at college in different places, so this is a chance for us to kind of have a reunion,” Moore said. “We’re staying at my mother’s house and my brother and my sister live around here, so the whole family’s going to be together for Thanksgiving.”
Moore said he has run a few road races in the past, but said a 5K is the perfect length for him.
“You’re not going to see me winning the race, even in my age group, but ... I’m just looking forward to going out there and enjoying the run,” he said. “I’m not running for a specific speed or anything. It’s a fun thing to do to start off a big holiday. I think it brings a lot of people together to do something enjoyable.”
Catching up with City Commissioner Jenny Brock, race co-chair and one of the founders of the Turkey Trot, before the start of the race, she said despite having some snow stick to the course Wednesday night, the event was running smoothly.
“This is our eighth year and it continues to grow in size,” Brock said. “We started with 700 (people) and this year, our final registration, was 4,389. It’s a little below what we projected, but the weather of Tuesday and Wednesday and the projection that today was going to be really cold ... the walk-in registrations declined a little bit. But still, 4,389 out of a city of 65,000 I think is a pretty good number. It’s a very festive atmosphere. We’re glad to see that. It’s a great day.”
Nate Fowler, with Rocky Price and other members of Trinity Baptist Church in Jonesborough, were excited to run Thursday to not only be with friends, but to also promote their own run, the Race for Ian 5K.
Showing off his electric green shirt, Fowler said “this is Ian Bates. He has severe hemophilia, meaning his blood doesn’t clot. Every year we have the Race for Ian 5K. It’s the first Saturday in November every year. We like to come out and just run as a group, a community of believers, to share our faith and to support the Race for Ian, to promote (the race) for the upcoming year. We hope to get more and more people (to participate) to hopefully find a cure for hemophilia.”
Michael Bates, Ian’s father and minister of students at Trinity Baptist, was at the Turkey Trot with Ian as runners and said the support from his fellow church members means a lot. He said all of the funds raised at the Race for Ian 5K go to the Tennessee Hemophilia & Bleeding Disorders Foundation.
Also running Thursday was Jeff Bedard, CEO and founder of Crown Laboratories Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, the title sponsor of this year’s Turkey Trot.
“This is an amazing event,” Bedard said. “Part of our mantra as a company (is) it’s all about wellness and health and taking control of your health. This is part of it, so we’re going to go out and exercise today before we sit at home and enjoy family, food and friendship. This year we’ve stepped up and become a title sponsor and we look forward to another decade of doing this as well. I couldn’t think of a better way to start Thanksgiving Day.”
As Turkey Trotters lined up for the start of the race at 8:30 a.m. on East Main and Legion streets, the six competitors in the wheelchair division started first, following an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the national anthem.
At the start of the race, competitive runners took off in a flash, as others kept pace with friends and family members. Those walking, guiding dogs or even pushing strollers seemed to be in good spirits as they briskly moved throughout the course.
While many people participating in this year’s Turkey Trot weren’t out to compete, it didn’t take long to name a winner, as Tanner Cook finished first with a time of 16:25.2.
Cook, an Abingdon, Va,. native and student at King University, quickly added layers of clothing following the race, and said that this was his first time running the Turkey Trot.
“I’d heard a lot of great things about it,” he said. “It’s obviously one of the biggest races around here, that and the Crazy 8s in Kingsport. It was really nice to run and win this one because this is another big race, like Blue Plum, that I’ve won here in Johnson City.”
So far this year, Cook was able to finish first in the Blue Plum 5K, the Foot Rx 5K and now the 2013 Turkey Trot.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a good way to lose a few pounds before you gorge yourself the rest of the day.”
As for running in next year’s Turkey Day race, Cook said he hasn’t scheduled out his road races yet, but said he would think about it.
“If I get the chance to, I’ll definitely try and do it again and go after the course record,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll be warmer.”
Other top finishers included Lanni Marchant, first-place female runner, and Fain Grogg, first-place finisher in the wheelchair division.
The Turkey Trot, an event that originated in 2005 as a way to engage the community to be more active, continues to grow in numbers and in popularity each year, Brock said.
“We wanted to create an activity where families could come together and do something ... that was health and fitness related,” she said. “When you look out here, it’s families who are together, who have come to enjoy this. I’m always at the finish line when everybody’s finishing and they’re holding hands and they’re smiling and they’re laughing. That’s what it was intended for and that’s what it accomplished.”
Brock said proceeds from this year’s Turkey Trot will go toward the development of the new Tweetsie Trail.