The Catonsville Cross Country Turkey Trot was started by former Comets cross country coach Sandra Gallagher-Mohler in 2004 and featured about as many runners as a large family gathering for Thanksgiving dinner.
Those 25 runners at the inaugural event increased to 125 in the second year and blossomed to more than 1,000 registrants and 800 finishers last year.
This year, it celebrates its 10th anniversary.
“It was very low-key at first, but it kept building and building,” said race director Gallagher-Mohler.
Now, the assistant cross country and track coach at Loyola University, Gallagher-Mohler is hoping to have at least 1,000 again on Thanksgiving morning at 8:30.
This year’s race, which costs $35 and begins at the entrance of the Community College of Baltimore County campus, features many attractions.
T-shirts are available to the first 800 participants. Portalli’s restaurant, in Ellicott City, has donated prizes that include $500 for first place, $300 for second and $100 for third.
Age-group winners receive a $50 gift certificate to Portalli’s.
“That is huge,” Gallagher-Mohler said. “I don’t know of any turkey trot that gives that much.”
Last year’s race was won by Ben Rosenkranz, but it is not known if he will run Thursday. Second-place finisher Ty Stump, a 2009 Catonsville High graduate, returns with an impressive holiday victory on his resume after winning the Arbutus Firecracker 10K on July 4 in 33:58.1.
Last year, he ran the 5K turkey trot course in 18:02.08, just over nine seconds behind Rosenkranz. Steve Prinzivalli was third in the male open race.
The top three females runners were Alyssa Doyle, Colleen Miller and Kristi Johnson.
There will also be a kids' one-mile fun run.
In addition, this year’s race features a competition among area students at Catonsville, Hillcrest, Westchester and Westowne Elementary schools.
The school that signs up the most runners receives a donation to the PTA.
The tennis courts house the activities, which include a moon bounce, provided by the Catonsville Hub.
Periscope with United Health Care is setting up a photo booth, while deejay In the Mood cranks out the tunes.
Proceeds go to the Catonsville High cross country program, including the purchase of uniforms, training tools, and travel expenses.
It also aids the causes they support, including the Comet Booster Club, the Catonsville High School S.A.D.D program, the Carol Saffran-Brinks Memorial Scholarship, Catonsville Celebrations Committee and Back on My Feet.
MedStar NRH Rehabilitation Network is the primary sponsor, while others include Wegmanns, SugarBakers, IRunTons, Signarama, D-3 Sportswear and Catonsville Women’s Giving Circle.