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Families trot their way through Thanksgiving morning

November 23, 2010
Dozens of families and avid runners plan to trot out to Gilford Youth Center's third annual Turkey Trot 5K Race and Family Walk bright and early on Thanksgiving morning.

Two years ago, Gilford Community Church Youth Director Scott Hodsdon, along with members of the church, conjured up ideas to raise money for the now standing youth center in town.

Hodsdon is now director of the youth center as well and said he plans to continue holding the Turkey Trot 5K for years to come, which now encourages families and those who do not wish to race to take a nice stroll with the addition of the family walk.

In the race's inaugural year, Hodsdon said 60 participants showed up for the race. Last year these numbers doubled and over 140 participants started their Thanksgiving morning with a three mile run.

This year, Hodsdon said the race has become more popular, and he hopes to see over 140 participants since over 100 have pre-registered. Runners and walkers are welcomed to register on the same day as the race.

"We want to improve every year and get more and more people," said Hodsdon. "The idea originated from a few members of the church who had the idea of doing something Thanksgiving morning. A lot of people come to this area for the holidays, and it adds a healthy effect to the holiday."

Hodsdon said it was also observed by members that the Lakes Region does offer a variety of races in the area, although the Turkey Trot appears to be one of the only local races held on Thanksgiving morning.

He said families are fully encouraged to participate in the event and while some people run competitively for the Turkey Trot title, others do not have to feel as intimidated as they would in a gigantic race such as the Timberman.

"It is more than just a 5K. It is a time to get outdoors and spend some time with family whether running or walking," said Hodsdon. "People can bring pets, dogs, strollers, but there are also those who compete."

While the timing of this holiday race and its flexibility manage to attract more participants every year, Hodsdon said the atmosphere is enjoyable as well and remains quite positive, even when Thanksgiving morning can be hectic for many people trying to clean and prepare a big dinner for family members.

Participants have noted that a brisk race or walk is a great way to start the day prior to a feast and afternoon festivities with friends and family. Families also have the opportunity to get outdoors before the "mad rush" on the roads during the mid-afternoon when there is still a sense of calm in the air.

"We want people to make this a tradition and we want to build it up every year," said Hodsdon, who sent an e-mail reminder out to all this who participated in the event last year.

While many participants are returning, new names are appearing on the registration list for those who want to add a new tradition to their plate this year.

While the Turkey Trot aims to raise funds for the youth center, the race is also a chance for participants to view the facility and all it has to offer to the community now that has been up and running for more than a year.

Hodsdon said a few things have also been tweaked in the race from year to year for minor improvements, including starting and ending the race closer to the youth center on Potter Hill Road, the inspiration for the event in the first place.

The majority of the course will follow the Old Home Day Gunstock Nordic Association's familiar 5K course through the Gilford village area.

This year participants will also be asked to give feedback post-race on how the trot went this year, and what improvements, if any, could make for an even more enjoyable Thanksgiving morning next year.

Hodsdon said there is no target for proceeds, which go to GYC program funding, although he added that he would like to continue to offer people a variety of programs and low prices, especially in this economy. He said so far, the race has remained a success and allowed the facility to do so.

Proceeds from the race will go towards program funding to maintain low prices, as well as seasonal programs including the second annual Santa Land held at GYC in conjunction with the Gilford Parks and Recreation Department.

Events such as Santa Land can be funded in full and can offer free admission to families and kids who get to meet Santa in December and engage in a big holiday festival thanks in part to race proceeds.

Participants are still eligible to register for the race on the youth center website or on the day of the race. The Turkey Trot 5K Race and Family Walk will be held on Thursday, Nov. 25, at 9 a.m.

Race registration prices are $20 per person and $50 for families up to five members. Long sleeved official Turkey Trot t-shirts will also be on sale at the race for $5 each.

Local event sponsors include Daniels Electric, Stafford Construction, Dewhirst Funeral Home, Baron's Appliances, Stewart Architect Association, Gunstock Swim Team, Gilford Rotary, Winnisquam Dental, Splash Swim Club of Gilford, and Pike Industries.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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