FORTY FORT — While many may have spent their Thanksgiving morning sleeping in or starting their turkey feasts in the kitchen, roughly 400 runners flocked to Leverage Fitness Studio to partake in the fourth annual Turkey Trot. The 5-mile run began at the Welles Street fitness center, traveling down Murray Street and onto Wyoming Avenue before heading back to the finish line.
While many runners took to regular athletic gear to try and stay warm for the crisp, mid-20s air, others turned to more festive garb, opting to dress as turkeys and even Santa and his reindeer. Inside the building, many participants opted to use the gym as a place to warm up — or just stay warm.
Tim Hlivia, owner of Leverage Fitness, said he started the event as a way to give back. Each year, a portion of the proceeds is donated to the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association.
“This is our fourth year, and each year we have more and more,” he said. “We wanted to do something to give back to the community, so we tagged up with Wyoming Valley Children’s Association to do something good on Thanksgiving.”
Outside, Dallas resident Bill Martin was busy trying to round up his reindeer for the race. Martin attended the event dressed as Santa, and many of his family members and their furry pals came with him as his reindeer. Martin said he tries to come up with a different costume idea each year. The family came as turkeys, pilgrims, and even ugly Christmas sweaters in trots past.
“We just like to run,” Martin said with a chuckle, adding they enjoy the competition.
The Thanksgiving holiday allowed for a wide variety of runners from all across the nation to attend, with participants hailing from as far as Canada and California. Herbert Plummer traveled to the area from Hoboken, New Jersey, to spend some time with his family for the holiday, but found himself spending the morning running for the gold with 400 strangers instead.
Wearing just a tank top and runner’s pants, Plummer jumped in place to stay warm while intermittently blowing into his hands. With his sister and family rooting him on, he said he aimed to win the event.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “So far, so good. It’s a little nippy, but I’m excited to get going.”
Plummer proved prophetic. He won the race with a best overall time of 27:44.
Leverage Fitness manager Denise Cunningham explained that the idea to start a Turkey Trot began with a full gym on Thanksgiving mornings, with many participants opting to come in and workout before spending the remainder of their day gobbling down turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Now, she said the event has grown and not only attracts runners, but families as well.
“It’s a good way to get the community together for the holidays,” she said. “We started with the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association three years ago, and I’m glad we chose them. It’s a good cause.”