On the slightly cloud but eventually sunny day of November 23rd, 2023, the 47th GMAA Turkey Trot kicked off with a bang for another year of raising donations for feeding Chittenden and trying to reach a new PR for attendance and food quantity. The air was thick with anticipation as the volunteers eagerly set up registration tables, GMAA apparel, food bins for Feeding Chittenden, and the timing and sound equipment for the annual event. Upon glancing at the RunSignUp list the night before, 513 participants were noted to have preregistered, which is already 200 more registrants than the previous year! But it didn’t end there. Around 9:00 am, the doors to Gutterson arena opened and in flooded hordes of trotters quickly making their way to the registration tables. However, with Ruth Blauweikel, Tim Richmond, and Scott Woodnorth at the helm of the registration tables, papers began to fly as money, checks, and registration papers went back and forth rapidly up until 9:58 am, 2 minutes before the race began. Jan, Janis, Christopher, and Ron quickly retreated to the course to make sure it was marked and ready to go. As quickly as the racers arrived, food bins immediately started filling up with piles and piles of donated food for Feeding Chittenden, the local food shelf.
As time passed, more and more runners/trotters arrived. Many for the kid’s race, which was put on without setbacks by our newest Kid’s Race volunteers (or voluntolder in Scott W.’s case), the Scotts! Scott Woodnorth and Scott Perapato, clad in a giant Turkey outfit for the masses to enjoy. I think he even made a TV debut! While the participants were gathering in Gutterson, Gordan MacFarland took his annual place at the microphone, manning the sound system, and giving all participants directions to the start in case they couldn’t see the giant orange cones lining the course. An unexpected visit occurred from the local news channels NCB5, whose cameras captured the very essence of Turkey Trotter persona. Many will never receive their claim to fame but most of greater Burlington was able to enjoy the event from the comfort of their homes.
At approximately 9:40 am, the runners/trotters were directed to make their way to the starting line however, panic arose as race participants stretched back as far as the side doors to the arena, making a large ‘C’ shape down the bike path less than 5 minutes before the race started. Would they make it?! It was later confirmed that 907 registered racers participated in the Turkey Trot that day, which is about 175 more runners than last year. (New PR!). At the start of the race, we recounted how grateful we were to have everyone out there, runners, trotters, spectators, and volunteers alike to participate in the Turkey Trot this year, especially with UVM’s Gutterson arena, bike path, and amenities at our disposal. At 10 am, the racers were off with the real trotters trailing behind.
To no surprise, fast times were run with Wondu Summa taking the victory with a time of 15:57 (unofficially) for the men and following not too far behind was the 1st female, Allie Ursiny. Due to the unofficial, casual, and fun nature of the race, runners are unable to be unidentified as race bibs are not provided. The winners of each category were asked to report to the registration table post-race to claim their prize so that we could congratulate them. The male and female winners came to claim their prizes but unfortunately, the non-binary category winner did not come to the table to get their SkiRack gift card so it is being held for them at SkiRack in case they make an appearance. The prizes were provided by SkiRack and generous donations were provided by local vendors to support the Turkey Trot annual raffle.
Following the conclusion of the race, the world’s greatest raffle was held with t-shirts, pint glasses, running socks, fleece blankets, gift certificates, and more were lying in wait to be won back in Gutterson arena. We had received donations from Zero Gravity, Mill River Brewing, Queen City Brewery, Pizza 44, Take Good Care Fitness, SkiRack, Ben & Jerry’s, Sangha Studio, and Starbucks just to name a few. Due to the learning experience that was last year’s lengthy raffle, prizes were set out by Tim, Ruth, and Alex McHenry with the winning raffle ticket numbers written on a sheet of paper so that runners could check to see if they were lucky enough to claim a prize. This significantly shortened the post-race prize-winning event as compared to last year.
At the end of the event, when all of the participants had taken their leave in lieu of turkey dinners and family time, the monetary donations were counted up and the food was prepared to be shipped off to be weighed. With the careful eyes and mathematical prowess of Ruth Blauweikel and the use of a calculator, a total of $7,330 ($998 more than last year) were raised between pre-registration and race-day registrants and 654 lbs of food were obtained for Feeding Chittenden (238 lbs more than last year!). We hope that next year is equally as or more successful with our donations and participants next year. I also want to commemorate our volunteers as the race would not have run as smoothly without them!
Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, Silas was originally drawn to New England to compete in XC running and Nordic skiing while attending Dartmouth. Since moving to Vermont in 2018, he spends his time running, coding, and playing outside with his dog and family.