Runners of every feather enjoy ideal setting at Longmont Turkey Trot – Longmont Times-Call

Runners of every feather enjoy ideal setting at Longmont Turkey Trot  Longmont Times-Call

Saturday morning’s cool weather quickly burned off as the 45th annual Longmont Turkey Trot prepared for launch.

Families, just-for-fun runners and serious racers assembled at Altona Middle School for the 9 a.m. start time. Competitors had a clear view of the snow-capped Longs Peak and Mount Meeker, as they ran alongside each other on either the 2-mile or 10-kilometer course.

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Bob Malone, a Fort Collins resident, said the weather couldn’t have been better.

“It’s a beautiful day,” Malone said. “Man, it’s a fantastic day for a 10K and the course is great.”

Malone’s running buddy and fellow Fort Collins resident, Danny Jordan, had one word to describe the view: “Awesome.”

All age groups ran together, but there were distinct divisions within the 10K: wheelchair racers, 10K runners and 10K runners with strollers. Among the youngest competitors running the 2-mile race were a group of girls and their mom’s dressed in bright red tutus and turkey headbands. McKenzie Palles and her friend Haley Goslin, both 10, made a bet with McKenzie’s dad Neal Palles that they would finish the 2 mile course before he completed the 10K.

“He said if we finish before him, we get donuts,” said Haley. McKenzie piped up and said her leftover Halloween candy was on the line.

In the end, the candy was safe and the girls were a donut each richer.

Race director and Longmont Recreation Program Supervisor Sara Taylor said the city’s Turkey Trot is unique not only because of the flat course and beautiful view, but because it’s an accessible race for all ages, abilities and incomes. The course is considerably flat compared to other courses like the Bolder Boulder and the registration fee was $31 and below, depending on age and race length. Taylor projects there were about 1,400 participants this year.

“Because our course is flat and fast, we actually get a wide range of people, from pretty fast, elite runners who are excited to participate to get their own personal bests, all the way down to people that are just happy to walk it and finish it with their families,” Taylor said. “It’s easy for everybody to participate.”

The event doesn’t just draw people from across Colorado. Some participants were visiting from as far away as Nebraska, Kentucky and even Florida. Cori Hughes, a detective from Panama City, Fla., ran the race with her sister. She said the elevation wasn’t too bad, even with her asthma, because of the warm weather.

“I’m proud of myself, I’m glad that I did it,” Hughes said. “Our time definitely could have been better but I kept stopping to take pictures.”

As runners continued on course, “Head Turkey in Charge” David Kimmett kept the waiting crowd entertained with jokes and facts about Thanksgiving and the race’s avian namesake. Kimmet, dressed in a turkey costume made by his wife, said he’s been announcing the Longmont race for about seven years after Taylor asked him to be a part of the day.

“My wife can make things like this,” Kimmett said as he gestured to his costume. “And I can make a fool out of myself. I don’t know if this is a community benefit that I’m providing, but it’s just something fun that I like to do.”

Runners started to cross the finish line shortly after the race started. Winner of the 2 mile course, Ryan Jones, finished with a time of 10:07. Jones ran the Turkey Trot as a tuneup for his last race of the season, the Pumpkin Pie 5K in Denver next week.

“I just kind of dropped the hammer down with a mile to go,” Jones said. “I think I dropped it a little early, but I think it was good to get the other runners off my back and I was able to just cruise home and keep a good pace and finish strong.”

The winner of the 10K distance was Matt Hensley with a time of 31:58 and Katja Stokley won the wheelchair race at 41:56.

Perhaps the one thing Coloradans take more seriously than their love of the outdoors is the love they have for their four legged friends. Although dogs were officially discouraged from participating, there were still a handful that ran alongside their owners. Molly McConnell and her year-and-a-half old golden retriever Maple Syrup ran the 2-mile race together. McConnell, a Gunnison resident, grew up in Boulder and said she likes to participate in local events to support the community when she comes back to visit her family. She said Maple Syrup pushed her hard and made her run her fastest mile.

“It’s super fun to run with a dog,” McConnell said. “She does have some work to do to pace herself with me. She gets distracted with smells and people who want to pet her while we’re running, but that’s part of having a dog.”

Taylor said the best part about the race is it helps build a strong community.

“I feel like this race brings out people that might not normally do a race. It’s a great experience for them, doing this with their family and with their friends,” Taylor said. “It’s really adorable, after the race seeing everybody, especially the kids, with their cute Turkey Trot shirts around town. Everybody’s always so proud.”

Jobie Stom, Jessica Chervenak, Amy Miller, and Qiyra Maree, part of team “A Rafter Of Turkeys” crosses the finish line during the Longmont Turkey Trot 2-mile race on Saturday morning in Longmont. Photo by: Jonathan