‘Turkey Trot’ back for 9th year
Published 9:37 am Friday, November 7, 2014
Before you gobble down some turkey on Thanksgiving, why not trot over to Johnson City and take part in the annual Up and At ’Em Turkey Trot race and family fun event.
This year marks the ninth time the 5k road race has been run on Thanksgiving morning. This year’s event will be held on Nov. 27 starting at 8:30 a.m. The run will begin and end near Memorial Park Community Center on Legion Street. And as an added bonus, the event will have a famous, fitness-minded grand marshal overseeing the activities.
Jennifer Messer, a top five finalist on Season 15 of The Biggest Loser, will lead thousands in the event according to race officials who announced her appearance at a press conference at Fairmont Elementary School Thursday.
“I’ve been blessed with an amazing opportunity, the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Messer of her nationally televised weight loss of more than 100 pounds. “I’ve been on an incredible journey so far, and my passion lies in inspiring women. I know how much work it takes, and there is never a finish line when it comes to being healthy.”
“It is never too late to get healthy and it is never too late to get moving,” she added.
Messer, who lives in Abingdon, Va., said she looks forward to having her family join her for the race.
“This will be my first ever Turkey Trot,” she said, adding she encourages everyone to come out and join the fun on Thanksgiving morning. “Don’t be afraid of running,” she said. “It’s not about running; it’s about moving. You can walk the 5k.”
In addition to being an advocate for fitness, Messer works with a program in her home community called “No Child Left Unfed” which helps provide healthy, nutritious food to underprivileged children.
“Jennifer is an inspiration whose accomplishments are perfectly in line with the mission of Up & At ’Em,” said Race Director Karen Hubbs. “In addition, we are thrilled to support her cause No Child Left Unfed, to help feed the region’s hungry with healthy foods.”
Race participants are encouraged to bring a jar of peanut butter or any other healthy, non-perishable food item during packet pick up days and the morning of the race. The food drive will benefit No Child Left Unfed and Second Harvest Food Bank.
When the Turkey Trot first started nine years ago, about 700 people came out for the first race. The event has been growing more and more every year.
“We’re expecting another great turnout,” said Race Chairwoman Jenny Brock, who noted that approximately 4,400 participants participated in last year’s record-cold race. “This year we are shooting for 5,000 people.”
The goal for next year’s event has already been set. “Next year we want 10 for 10, 10,000 people for our 10th year,” Brock said.
Every year, the Turkey Trot encourages participation by local schools. This year all Turkey Trot participants may select a school to run/walk on their behalf.
The contest among the schools is broken down into two divisions — one for “small” schools with enrollment of 799 or fewer students and one for “large” schools with a student enrollment of 800 or more.
Prizes will be awarded to the top three schools in each division who have the highest number of participants registered for that school. The first prize schools will receive $1,000 with second place earning $500 and third getting $250. A competitive and fitness level wheelchair division is also available for race participants. This division will be broken down into two sub-groups: Push-rim Wheelchair Division and Day Chair Division and prizes will be awarded to first and second place in each division.
An awards ceremony will be held at the Memorial Park amphitheater immediately following the race. Additionally, a cash prize will be awarded to the school with the most race participants.
Brock urged those interested to register at www.jcturkeytrot.org by Nov. 21 in order to be guaranteed the best price and one of the always-popular long-sleeved Turkey Trot T-shirts. Brock also encouraged runners to “like” the JC Turkey Trot 5K Facebook page for updates and photos.
Online registrations will close at midnight Nov. 23. There will be no registrations the day of the event. Early registration by midnight Nov. 21 is $20 for adults; $15 for students (18 and under). Late registration (Nov. 22-26) is $25 for adults; $20 for students.
A special family discount is available for early registrants: families with five or more members living in the same household will receive a $20 discount if registered by midnight Nov. 21.
A registration form must be completed for each family member. Online registration will automatically give discount at checkout. State of Franklin Track Club members will receive a $2 discount if registered by Nov. 21. Packet pick-up and late registrations will be at Memorial Park Community Center from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Nov. 25 and 26. For more information about the 5k USATF-certified course, trophy categories, school awards and prizes, parking areas, and road closures please visit www.jcturkeytrot.org.