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Turkey Trot race raises funds, food and fun

November 24, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Hundreds of runners compete Thursday in the annual Turkey Trot race at Hagerstown Community College.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Sharpsburg resident Janice Mentzer, 46, competed in the Turkey Trot for the first time this year.

“I just don’t want to finish last,” she said. “This is my first run I’ve ever had.”

The 11th annual Turkey Trot, held Thursday at Hagerstown Community College outside the Athletic, Recreation and Community Center, featured a food drive, 5K run/walk and Mashed Potato Kids Races.

Mentzer, who said her husband, Heath, runs a lot, just started running. She said the Turkey Trot was a way to get in shape and involved in the community instead of being competitive.

“This is such a good community event, and it’s for a good cause,” she said. “I just wanted to come out here and burn a few.”

The Turkey Trot had two races. At 8:30 a.m., children ages 2 to 10 ran 600 meters just outside the ARCC. The 5K race, which people of any age can run, began at 9 a.m.

More than just a competition, the Turkey Trot is also a fundraiser. It started in 2001 as a way to raise scholarship money for student athletes to attend HCC, according to Jaime Dick, director of the Washington County Recreation Department.

Since then, the Mashed Potato Kids Races have been added, and the event now also raises canned goods for Washington County Food Resources.

“We are trying to get everybody involved, because this is a community event,” Dick said. “Thanksgiving is one of those family events.”

The event Thursday had around 1,200 people competing in it, compared to 116 its first year, Dick said.

“The event has taken on a whole different dynamic that it didn’t before when it first started,” he said. “We’ve had people from all over the country come to compete in this event.”

The 5K race around HCC began in front of the ARCC, with  the finish line in the gym inside the building.

Williamsport resident Tony Clement, 24, won the event, finishing just under 15 minutes. He said he had not competed in the event in more than five years, but noted that it was much tougher this year.

“This event has gotten a lot more popular, and more people are competing in it,” he said. “College kids and athletes come back and run the race.”

Clement, who was using the event as training for a race in January, said he enjoyed it not because he won, but because  so many people showed up to participate.

“This is the biggest community event I know of,” he said. “It’s a family event, and I like seeing everyone involved.”

Free turkeys were given out to the male and female winners in different age groups, Dick said.

Hagerstown resident Taryn Shank, 20, finished first among females after winning the race overall in 2010. Shank, who runs track and cross country at Elizabethtown College, said she also likes running in the event because of the large turnout.

“It’s great to see all the runners coming out in Hagerstown,” she said. “I love 5K’s altogether.”

The fee to enter the race was $20, which Dick said helped the fundraising efforts.

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