Plans Announced For Shinnston’s 6th Annual Turkey Trot
By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor
October has barely begun; yet many stores already have Christmas decorations on display! Keeping that in mind, that means it certainly is not too early to be making Thanksgiving plans. And organizers of the Shinnston Turkey Trot hope many folks will include the event to kick off their Thanksgiving morning.
The local Turkey Trot began in 2009 with only 54 participants. Since then, its growth has continued. Last year, participation was up to 700! And they have set a lofty goal of 1,000 runners/walkers this year.
Event founders Jason and Stacia Talkington are local natives, and although they are now residents of Pennsylvania, they enjoy making the arrangements for this each year – and that has become a huge task! Their ‘soft spot’, of course, is that proceeds from this 5K benefit a 4-H scholarship fund in memory of Marie Gaston – a relative of theirs who was an avid 4-H’er. Race profits help send kids to 4-H camp each year as well as purchase equipment for the camp that is utilized by all campers.
What is the reason for the race’s growth? Well, according to Jason, it may be a number of things. “Some of our racers are serious competitors and simply like to race. They’re happy to have something like this in the area – and yes, even on Thanksgiving Day!” Jason explained.
Secondly, the event often becomes kind of a social occasion – a “meet & greet” for family and friends who have returned to town to visit for the holiday.
“Some folks come to support the cause, which we’re thankful for,” he added. “And many people appreciate the fact that it is so ‘family friendly’ with many activities for children to be involved as well.”
Jason continued, “I would be remiss if I didn’t say that Stacia and I pray about this a lot. We are not trained professionals when it comes to planning an event such as this and sometimes it’s a little chaotic during the planning! But on race day, everything seems to come together and we are so thankful for that and for the race’s growth.”
Shinnston’s Turkey Trot is truly more than just a race. There is a DJ offering music before and after the race; there are bagels, bananas, hot chocolate, Gatorade, and water available and free to participants; bounce houses for the kids and face painting as well! All of these extras make it more than a race … it is an “event”!
Jason and Stacia say they’ve had a learning curve and they learn as they go, but they have been good students – taking suggestions from other race organizers and also incorporating feedback they have received from participants.
Because of its growth, expenses have increased somewhat. They offer snacks for more people, more entertainment for the children and now have to use sophisticated electronic chips to keep an accurate account of when runners cross the finish line. But it is all worth it, they say.
There are perks to registering early! The entry fee is just $15 if participants register by October 27th. Those folks will receive a souvenir race chip; and the first 500 to register also receive a race bag filled with coupons, goodies, etc. as well as an official performance race shirt.
“All of this for just $15 is the best Black Friday deal they’ll find,” Jason stated. “I have run in many races in larger cities, including the Chicago Marathon – and I assure you there are no better race bag contents than those we have for our Shinnston Turkey Trot! All of this is due to the very generous local sponsors that support what we do.”
Mary’s Hair Care & Fitness is once again the main sponsor for Shinnston’s 6th annual Turkey Trot this year.
The Talkingtons admit that one of the most important things they have learned is that no matter how much you advertise an event like this, the best is the word that spreads from those who have enjoyed running the race in Shinnston in previous years.
To eliminate some of the race day hassle, if you have registered early, please stop by Jimmy’s Diner in Shinnston on either Tuesday or Wednesday night prior to the race to pick up your performance race t-shirts. Registered participants can also enjoy a special deal on a meal and dessert on those evenings. And if you haven’t signed up for the race in advance, you can register there as well.
No one will be turned away. Show up on Thanksgiving morning and you can register before race time; however, the entry fee will be $20 at that time.
Kids are encouraged to take part in the Gobble Wobble, a 50-yard sprint designed especially for kids! Mr. Turkey will run right along with them. There is a $10 fee per child for the Gobble Wobble and each child gets a t-shirt and a participation ribbon at the end of the race. This activity is for kids 12 and under, and they will be broken down into age levels. The Gobble Wobble begins at 8:50 a.m. on November 27th.
The adult race begins promptly at 9 a.m. The 3.1-mile trek is a certified course that begins at the Trailhead near Rite Aid in Shinnston. Runners/walkers will proceed through the downtown area and will cross the new bridge this year for the first time! Typically the last of the runners cross the finish line within approximately an hour so that traffic is not delayed too long.
Following the race, there will be many door prizes given out and medals will also be given to the top three male and female runners. Family, friends, church groups, school clubs, etc. are welcome to create a ‘team’ and give it a name. A traveling trophy is presented each year to the winning ‘team’.
Runners are also asked to remember to bring one or more non-perishable food items. These donations are given to the Lord’s Pantry to help replenish their shelves after Thanksgiving.
For your convenience, visit www.shinnstonturkeytrot.com to register electronically – or – print off a registration form and mail to the address provided on the website.
Plan to trot this course on Thanksgiving morning and burn your calories first; then you can enjoy your Thanksgiving feast guilt-free!