Runners shed calories and guilt at annual Turkey Trot

dquizon@newsobserver.comNovember 23, 2012 

— About 700 Triangle residents probably feel a bit less guilty about stuffing themselves full of turkey and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day – they spent the early hours of the holiday burning calories at the Turkey Trot 5K charity run at The Streets at Southpoint shopping mall.

“It’s good to get out there and run before you gorge yourself,” said Mark Allard, one of the race’s sponsors.

Proceeds from the race will go to local food banks, said Butch Robertson, who organized the event through his company, BTR Management. The company organizes charity races throughout the Raleigh area, including the Raleigh Fall Festival and the Greater Zebulon 5K.

Thursday’s race was unusual for its location as well as the timing. Participants circled the parking lot of the normally-busy shopping mall, which was empty. Part of the route took them through the mall’s “Main Street” area, an outdoor walkway configured to look like a city street. The runners were pleased with the location, which provided ample parking and a flat course.

“This was a fast course,” said Ramon Van Dijk, who finished third overall. “I live in Wake Forest, where it’s very hilly, so I was really concerned about that.”

The race was in danger of falling through just two months ago. Robertson organized a Thanksgiving run at Crossroads Plaza in Cary for the past three years, but a change in ownership forced him to find a new venue. He said he was pleased with the result.

“The location is ideal,” he said. “The runners loved it. I heard nothing but good comments about it.”

Robertson credited the management at the mall for helping him pull it together on short notice. Thanksgiving is one of the few days when it’s possible to hold a race at mall, he said, but it’s still an unusual request.

“They weren’t sitting around and thinking ‘We’d like a road race,’ (when) I came walking in,” he said. “This is new to them.”

As of last night, the race had 620 registered participants, Robertson said, but he estimates another 100 runners registered on-site. Those numbers don’t account for the 1-mile Fun Run and the 100 Kids Dash, he said. Registration fees were $25 for 5K runners, $10 for the Fun Run and $5 for the Kids Dash.

Allard, who owns several New Balance stores in the Raleigh area, said he was surprised at the turnout. Organizers had pulled it together at the last minute, he said, so there hadn’t been much time for promotion.

“(Turnout) was awesome – probably double what we’d hoped for,” he said. “I’m looking forward to next year when we can double that.”

Quizon: 919-836-5768

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