Written by Jessica Fuller (Johnson City Press)
Run now, gobble later.
Thousands of participants in the 11th annual Turkey Trot decided to get a good 5K in before digging into the Thanksgiving turkey Thursday morning.
Just over 3,700 participants ran this year, which is a down few hundred from last year’s 4,000 participants. Zasnoba Mashkori, who works for We Run Events, said that Wednesday’s registration numbers were down from last year. The problem with this Wednesday was the blanket of wildfire smoke plaguing the region, which Mashkori said probably contributed to the drop in participants.
But the decline didn’t stop the Trot from being one of the biggest 5Ks in the region, and some of this year’s winners managed to break course records.
The top three overall male runners all broke the course record, with East Tennessee State University graduate student Austin Whitelaw coming in with the best time at 14:43, meeting his personal goal of breaking 15 minutes.
Whitelaw ran track at the University of Tennessee before graduating in May, and said he took it easy over the summer before beginning his training in September for his first Turkey Trot.
Luke Meade, from Bluff City, came in second with a time of 15:01, and Joseph Mullen took third place at 15:17. All three men set new records for the course with their times.
Stephanie Place record the best time among females at 18:03. She was followed by Emily Boles at 18:29 and Natalia Rivas at 18:45.
This was 11-year-old Michael Athey’s first run in the Turkey Trot. Finishing at 27 minutes, Michael said he had a good run. He used to play soccer when he was younger, but decided to start running cross country at Holston Middle School this year.
Michael said he likes to run because it’s fun and keeps him healthy.
His parents, Dianna and Mike, stood on the sidelines this year to get pictures of Michael’s first Turkey Trot, but said they have plans to walk the marathon next year to support their son and other family members who participate in the Trot.