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Towson family still hot to 'Trot' in annual Thanksgiving 5K run

The Berger family, from left, Jim, Caitlin, Brendan, Danny, Bridget and Cathy will again participate in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk at the Orokawa Family Center Y in Towson as they have done for the past dozen years.
The Berger family, from left, Jim, Caitlin, Brendan, Danny, Bridget and Cathy will again participate in the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk at the Orokawa Family Center Y in Towson as they have done for the past dozen years. (Submitted photo)

When Cathy and Jim Berger moved to Southland Hills in 2002, it was a no-brainer for them to participate in the annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk on Thanksgiving morning at the Orokawa Family Center in West Towson.

"We sit literally next to the Y," Cathy Berger said.

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They allowed their four children to run after they each turned 10.

"That was our rule," their mother said. "Then we knew they would finish."

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They've been running ever since, and this year, the whole family — Jim, 48, a business manager, Cathy, 47, a stay-at-home mom, Caitlin, 16, Bridget, 15, Danny, 13, and Brendan, 12 — will be running again. They will be joining more than 2,000 others in the 20th annual event, a fundraiser for children whose families can't afford educational and enrichment opportunities.

Runners should arrive by 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 27, at the Y, 600 W. Chesapeake Ave., and the run, starting at 8:30 a.m., will take runners through the streets of West Towson and Southland Hills, starting and ending at the Y.

Nov. 24 is the deadline to register online. Go to ymdturkeytrot.org or classy.org/events/2014-y-turkey-trot-charity-5k/e36667.

Fees range from $30 to $42 for adults, depending partly on when you sign up and whether you want to be timed. Donations to the Y are tax-deductible and people can set up fundraising pages online by going to ymaryland.org and clicking on the Turkey Trot link.

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Packets can be picked up Tuesday, Nov. 25, from 3-8 p.m., at Charm City Run Timonium, 2045 York Road; on Wednesday, Nov. 26, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Y; and at 7 a.m at the Y on Thanksgiving Day.

Child care is available onsite during the run. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, too. Parents who run with strollers are asked to run at the back of the pack.

An award ceremony is planned for top winners of all of the Turkey Trot runs that are sponsored by the Y of Central Maryland.

Last year's run drew 2,300 people and the goal this year is 2,500, said Jamie Watt Arnold, a spokeswoman for the event.

The run is one of six that the Y of Central Maryland organizes. Others are in Arnold, Ellicott City, Baltimore City, Westminster and Bel Air. Collectively, they drew about 9,000 participants last year, plus another 4,000 to 5,000 supporters, said Suzanne Green, vice president for district operations. This year, the goal is 12,000 participants, she said.

"The numbers have definitely been growing over the years," said Green, who organizes the runs logistically. She said it is designed to be an informal, family-friendly event, and that participants are encouraged to dress for the holidays. People have come dressed in turkey hats and even as cans of cranberrry sauce, she said.

"We've had Santa Clauses, we've had gingerbread men," she said.

Cathy Berger doesn't know how fast her family members have run in past years and said it's not the point.

"We finish," she said. "The goal was always to finish. The kids are much faster than we are. I'm always at the end."

The family has run even in bad weather.

"I can remember it sleeting and being pelted with snow," Cathy Berger said.

She said the race is good exercise for the family, which already runs regularly for exercise.

"It's gotten the kids into running," she said. And she said the Thanksgiving Day race "justifies the Thanksgiving dinner."

What's most important is to hear the roar of the crowds that line the streets to cheer runners on and wish them a happy Thanksgiving.

"The enthusiasm is incredible," Cathy Berger said, adding that some people come from out of town or even out of state to run with their families.

"It's like running through Mayberry," she said.

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