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Trotting for Turkey: Denton runners line up for 3rd annual Thanksgiving Day race

There are two types of people on Thanksgiving: the sedentary folks (myself included) who sit on a couch with a second helping of food and the people who run Turkey Trots.

More than 1,500 of the latter lined up along McKinney Street on a brisk, 40-degree morning to run in the third annual Downtown Denton Turkey Trot. The 5K race, sponsored by Point Bank and put together by the Denton Area Running Club, raised $10,000 for the Denton Community Food Bank this year.

"We wanted to do something at the Square because there was no real race here where they shut down the roads," said race director and Denton Area Running Club president Tony Roman. "You do have a captive audience on Thanksgiving."

Turkey Trots are nothing new as millions of people around the country decide to get in a little exercise before wolfing down an average of 4,500 calories. Though most of the crowd in Denton hailed from areas around the county, several made the trip from places like Oklahoma, North Carolina and Illinois. 

As they lined up for the 9 a.m. start time, participants included long-distance runners fresh off their last marathon, families in T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Let's Get Basted," moms and dads pushing strollers and dogs barking at their owners to run faster.

Several got into the spirit of the holiday. There were a handful of fall-colored tutus, pumpkin pie hats and one local woman, Karen Clark, who ran in a full-fledged turkey suit.

"It's a tradition in our family to run in the Turkey Trot," said Clark, who ran the race with her grandchildren. "This is our third in Denton and we've run in the Dallas race about 10 times."

Linda McKissack ran alongside Clark and said the 5K was a good bonding experience.

"We talk about everything while we run," she said. "It helps us sweat the crazy out."

Others were new to the race, like Denton resident Brittni Hunter who ran the race with her dog Tipsy.

"I started a weight-loss journey this year and figured this would be a good way to keep it up," Hunter said. "I started Weight Watchers in August and I've lost 17 pounds so far."

The Keller family also was running the race for the first time this year. Mother Tara said she had two goals for the day.

"I'm in it to finish it and to not be last," she said.

The people at the front of the pack near the starting line, though, were in it to win it. When the countdown hit zero, they bolted off along McKinney Street and made a quick right onto Locust Street. It took about six minutes for all the participants to cross the starting line —  or the entirety of AC/DC's "Back in Black" followed by one verse and the chorus of Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel."  

A short time later, Oklahoma resident Chase McMichael was the first person to cross the finish line with a time of about 16 minutes and 20 seconds. The first woman to cross the finish line wasn't far behind, with Flower Mound native Samantha Humphries coming in around 18 minutes and 16 seconds.

 Soon, a trickle turned into a sea of people triumphant that they finished the race. A few couples crossed the finish line hand-in-hand while some individuals sprinted past their competitors in one final push to the end.

When she crossed the finish line with kids Brooke and Wyatt in a stroller and Carmen and Erin trailing behind her, Colleen Kelley echoed the wishes of all parents on Thanksgiving.

"Oh, we're going home to eat and maybe all of the kids will fall asleep at the same time."

For more information about the Denton Area Running Club and future races, visit www.dentonarearunningclub.org. 

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.

FEATURED PHOTO: Runners cross the finish line Thursday during the Turkey Trot at Downtown Denton. The annual event is in its third year. Participants were able to run through Texas Woman's University and around the Courthouse on the Square. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Denton Community Food Center. Jeff Woo/DRC