When Suzanne Holt moved to the mid-Hudson from Brooklyn in 2003, one of the things that she missed about her previous life was the Turkey Trot 5K race held every Thanksgiving. Surprised that her new home didn’t offer something comparable, she set to work organizing one as an annual event benefiting Family of New Paltz. Now the New Paltz Turkey Trot is about to celebrate its 12th outing on Thursday, November 26, and founder Holt remains an active member of the race committee. “The first year the skies opened up and it rained buckets,” she recalls. “I’ve never seen so many laughing happy people.”
The race goes on rain or shine, warm or cold, so attendance varies from year to year; but Holt thinks that as many as 1,000 runners and walkers have participated at times, and many keep on coming back. “It’s like a big reunion spot,” she says, noting that most college students come back to visit their families for Thanksgiving weekend, and many use the Turkey Trot as a place to reconnect with old friends. “Sometimes there are three or four generations in one family participating…It’s a great, healthy way to start Thanksgiving and be a part of our community.”
Some of the regulars dress up in costumes to run or walk, and this year, for the first time, there will be Best Costume prizes, along with the usual awards for the competitive runners in the 5K race. Awards are given in a post-race ceremony around 10:30 a.m. to both the male and the female first-, second- and third-place runner in each age category, in five-year increments. This year’s awards are made by a local artist, Solveig Comer, according to Holt.
But those aren’t the only changes to the Turkey Trot for 2015. “We have some exciting improvements,” enthuses Holt. “You have the option of chip timing, and for the first time it’s got USATF [USA Track & Field] certification. Somebody came out and certified the course. It’s exactly five kilometers.” The computer chip will be attached to the runner’s bib, at a cost of $5 above the regular registration fee, and everyone who registers by the November 23 deadline for chip timing will also automatically have their picture taken at the Finish Line at the Water Street Market. The photos can then be downloaded from the Web for free.
“This is still an affordable race that people can enjoy,” Holt says, noting that the half-mile Mashed Potato Run on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail for kids up to seven years of age, which starts at 9 a.m., is free. Registrants in the chip-timed 5K race, which starts at 9:30 a.m., pay $25 if they’re age ten or over; eight- and nine-year-olds pay $15. At 9:35 the untimed 5K Fun Run/Walk begins, following the same course as the “serious” runners: south on Water Street to Plains Road until it ends, returning to the Water Street Market via the Rail Trail. These more casual runners, walkers and strollers pay $20 for age 10 and up, $10 for ages 8 and 9 if they register by November 23. Registrants after that date pay $25 and $10.
There will be registration at the Water Street Market beginning at 8 a.m. on race day, but participants are urged to register earlier if possible. This can be done online at https://newpaltzturkeytrot.itsyourrace.com; by downloading a registration form from www.newpaltzturkeytrot.com and mailing it in or dropping it off at Family of New Paltz; or in person at the Jewish Community Center, located at 30 North Chestnut Street, from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25.
“This is a great event for the whole family,” says Holt, noting that entertainment at the Water Street Market will be provided by Fuzzy Lollipop, “a local band that everybody loves. They sing ‘We Are Family’ for the Turkey Trot every year…By the time people arrive, they’re playing.” Carl Welden will emcee the proceedings, and Garvan McCloskey will host the awards ceremony. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, with all funds raised by the event going toward Family’s food pantries and crisis services.
“Family really relies on this as one of their big fundraisers,” adds Holt. “And we couldn’t do this without the help of our generous sponsors.” New Paltz Health & Nutrition Center and Kniffen Homes are this year’s major underwriters of the Turkey Trot. Also providing sponsorships are the Copeland Funeral Home, First Care Medical, Hudson Valley Total Immersion Swim Studio, Alan Goodman & Kathy Mazzetti, Bridge Creek Catering, David Clouser & Associates, the Holt family, Rock & Snow, Snug’s Bar, Jim DeMaio State Farm Insurance, Wallkill View Farm, Dedrick’s Pharmacy & Gifts, the Devine Agency, Gadaleto’s Seafood & Market, Gordon Fire Equipment, Ignite Fitness, Jenkinstown Motors, Karma Road, McGillicuddy’s Tap House, P&G’s Restaurant, Pegasus Footwear, William Weinstein Acupuncture, Austin Ryan Optika, Plaza Diner, Tom’s Repair and Ulster Savings Bank.
So expiate your Thanksgiving dinner caloric guilt early and sign up now for the New Paltz Turkey Trot. For more info, visit www.newpaltzturkeytrot.com or www.facebook.com/new-paltz-turkey-trot-154786261248959.