Thousands of runners require thousands of cups for water at the annual Turkey Trot Charity 5K, and this year the Westminster YMCA got rid of its Styrofoam cups to host a greener race.
Approximately 2,100 runners converged on the parking lot of Carroll Community College on a windy Thanksgiving morning to participate in The Hill Family Center Y’s 5K, according to YMCA Executive Director Mike Walters. The Hill Y is one of seven YMCAs in the Central Maryland association that hosts a Turkey Trot, and this year was the Hill Y’s ninth race, Walters said.
The Hill Y tried to go green by substituting compostable and paper cups for the 3,000 Styrofoam cups usually ordered for the race, according to Walters. Additionally, receptacles for trash, recycling, and compost were stationed throughout the event. In the past, all waste went to the same dumpster and it was not separated by type, according to Walters.
“We’re trying to decrease our footprint,” Walters said.
The plan is for all seven Turkey Trots in the Central Maryland association to follow the green protocol starting next year, according to Walters. He said he was glad to have the Hill Y pilot the environmentally-friendly program and work out the kinks.
“I just want to be on the forefront,” Walters said.
A statewide foam ban goes into effect July 1, which will prevent food service businesses, grocery stores, and hospital or school cafeterias from selling or providing food or beverages made of polystyrene foam.
A family affair
Runners of all ages, many of them wearing Thanksgiving turkey-themed clothing, braved the weather for Thursday’s race. Noses turned red, eyes watered, and tail feathers ruffled as strong gusts battered the area.
Missi Blue and her 9-year-old daughter Sadie Schenning, of Finksburg, donned turkey costumes for the occasion. Blue’s 10-year-old son Milo ran with them, though not in costume. It was their first time at the Westminster race, according to Blue.
“We just really started running together as a family,” Blue said.
Playing the role of race mascot was YMCA fitness instructor Tom Miley, who also dressed as a turkey. Miley’s job for the day was to hand out water, encourage runners, and be chased by children in the short-distance Turkey Chase run.
“I’m going to get my three miles in costume,” Miley said before the start of the 5K.
Cheering on her family from the sidelines was Sharon Gogol of Finksburg. Her son, daughter, niece, and their friends were somewhere in the crowd wearing turkey hats and socks, she said.
“They have a blast. They really have a lot of fun,” Gogol said.
This time of year, Gogol said she’s reminded to be thankful for her family.
“You get to be my age, your parents are older. Every time you have with them is just a blessing,” Gogol said.
While most people in costume embodied a turkey theme, Finksburg resident Lonnie Pryor chose to recycle his pirate Halloween costume. Thursday marked his first Turkey Trot and his wife Debi’s second.
“My wife convinced me to come on out and try,” he said.
After seeing a number of dogs at the race, many of them in costume, the couple said they want to return with their dog next year.
A family of nine, plus three dogs, dressed in orange turkey T-shirts, tutus, beaded ties, and drum stick hats.
“It’s just something fun to do for the family,” said mother Jen Shipley, of Westminster.
It was their first time at the Turkey Trot, she said.
Her husband Dave said they planned to go with his sister’s family, who also trotted, to Sykesville for dinner after the race.
Westminster resident Marjorie Simpson donned attire that spoke to the origin of the holiday.
“I found this skirt kind of helps shield the wind,” Simpson said.
This was her second Turkey Trot, but the first time running as a pilgrim. Later on, she’ll have 20 people at her home for Thanksgiving dinner.
“The Turkey Trot was kind of an opportunity to relax,” Simpson said.
Eldersburg resident Sherry Stick was the first female runner to finish the race, coming in at 19 minutes, 43 seconds, according to a race official. Race results are available at charmcityrun.com.
She’s been to the Turkey Trot numerous times, she said.
“It’s a really fun event. It’s for a great cause,” Stick said.
Walters estimates the Hill YMCA will fundraise about $105,000 from the trot, between runners and sponsors. The money from the race goes directly to YMCA programs, he said.
The first person to cross the finish line was a cross country athlete from Westminster. Will Greene blazed through the course in 16 minutes, 50 seconds, according to a race official. He is a senior at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania.
“I just like running to stay in shape,” Greene said. “You were running straight into a headwind for the first mile-and-a-half.”
Greene’s post-race plans matched that of many runners that day — eating a lot of turkey.