FORTY FORT — An annual Thanksgiving run in this West Side borough gives participants a chance to burn calories even before consuming their hearty holiday meals.
Beyond that, many of the more than 300 runners in the third annual five-mile Turkey Trot said the event is becoming a family tradition.
Many participants sport a bit of holiday color, if not holiday-themed costumes. Viewers along the route get in the spirit, too, with some pulling on turkey, Pilgrim or elf-like headwear, and holiday sweaters.
Joining the runners this year were a number of dogs of all breeds, happy, it seemed, to be spending time outdoors amid the holiday-spirited crowd.
Tim Hlivia, owner of event sponsor Leverage Fitness, said the fitness center historically had opened its doors to those who wanted to work out on Thanksgiving morning.
“And then we had the idea that if people were working out, perhaps we could also raise money for a good cause,” he said, “as well as bringing members of the community together.”
In the spirit of the holiday, the business is donating part of the proceeds to the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association.
“It’s just the right thing to do,” Hlivia said.
Mayor Andy Tuzinski agrees. Although the mayor doesn’t run in the race, he participates by directing traffic, encouraging participation, and smiling at everyone who crosses his path.
“It’s a great day for Forty Fort,” he said.
Sisters Kim Segiel, of Covington Township, and Kris Danilovitz, Moosic, said they had run together since they were “12 or 13 years old.”
Segiel, who was hosting Thanksgiving dinner later in the day and was headed home to check on her turkey shortly after finishing the race, said she appreciated the race’s distance.
“Most races are 5ks, just a bit over 3 miles,” she said. “This was a little bit longer, and I like that.”
Although rain and sleet fell for brief periods during the race, both sisters said they had been intent on running and completing the race, and didn’t think the weather impacted their finishing times.
“I’m a rower at school,” she said. “I just run as a way to unwind. I wasn’t looking to be the fastest runner.”
Denise Cunningham, the general manager of Leverage Fitness and an event organizer, said participation has continued to grow every year, attracting people of all ages and from many areas. “One of this year’s runners came down from Ontario,” she said. “Spent the night at a local hotel and is running today.”
Corinne Conyngham, Shavertown, was visiting from the University of Pittsburgh to share the holiday with her family. The race, she said, made the trip home extra special.
Tom Temperine waited for his daughter, Nadine Solomon, to finish the race with his granddaughter, Kadence.
Temperine, who said he was a runner for many years, said his daughter shared his passion for running. “And,” he said, smiling. “She’ll be able to eat whatever she wants for the rest of the day.”
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLGGibbons