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Adirondack Sports & Fitness, LLC
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Adirondack Sports & Fitness is an outdoor recreation and fitness magazine covering the Adirondack Park and greater Capital-Saratoga region of New York State. We are the authoritative source for information regarding individual, aerobic, life-long sports and fitness in the area. The magazine is published 12-times per year at the beginning of each month.

October 2016 - RUNNING & WALKING

2014 Christopher Dailey 5K Turkey Trot in Saratoga Springs.  Courtesy Patrick Dodson/Daily Gazette

Turkeys Put Giving Back in Thanks 

By Laura Clark

Runners celebrate the 2015 Troy Turkey Trot. Pat Hendrick Photography

Albany Academy girls cross country team and their coach, Jonathan Catlett, at the 2015 24-Hour Fight Against Hunger. Courtesy of Fleet Feet Sports

            A simple Thanksgiving word association game reveals the usual cast of characters:  Pilgrims, Native Americans, stuffed turkeys, family reunions, football and, from our perspective, the ubiquitous turkey trot. Certainly, Thanksgiving means giving thanks, but from another perspective it could mean a personal act of thanks – sharing your bounty with the less fortunate. While there are myriad opportunities to do this, runners have found a way of killing two birds with one stone by combining recreation and responsibility.

            As with all holidays, it seems as if the designated day is not enough, with events also scheduled for the shoulder weeks. Getting a head start is the fourth annual Fleet Feet Sports “24 Hour Fight Against Hunger” from 3pm on Friday, November 18 to 3pm on Saturday, November 19 at the Albany Wolf Road store. Want to display all 3,500 of your feathers during a 24 hour run? Not sure if you can maintain the hype for 24 straight hours? Then flock together in a spirited relay formation. Want to experience a 50K run without fear of cutoffs or getting lost? Seeking a casual pre-holiday turkey trot rehearsal with family and friends? Or just want to hang out in a safe environment and avoid the chopping block? This event offers something for mixed flocks of all abilities.

            A donation of $25 to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York will include a reassuring one-mile loop course and a comfortable place to roost. Wear apparel with ample pockets as each lap will earn you one raffle ticket, with two more added for 12-4am laps. Milestone distances will generate even more raffles for apparel, shoes, race entries, gift cards and a PlayStation 4 grand prize. In the spirit of the season, the three leading fundraisers will earn a top to bottom running makeover. Visit: fleetfeetalbany.com.

            The most venerable turkey in the lineup is the 69th annual Troy Turkey Trot 5K & 10K, the 12th oldest race in the nation and 64th in the world. That is one tough turkey!  Amazingly, after all these years of talking turkey, I just now realized that I am exactly as old as the Troy Turkey! Not that I was born in 1916, but since there were a few gaps in the continuum, the turkey and I tied our age group. In a wishbone sort of way, this is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the race, which dovetails nicely with the City of Troy’s 200th – so expect some special touches. While there have been many configurations over the years, for us the winning combination plate seems to be the 5K for impatient diners, the 10K for second-helping enthusiasts, the Grade School Mile for the poults, and the One-Mile Turkey Walk for those who prefer a less hurried approach.

            Sides include a Freihofer’s take on family teams with many combinations, a costume contest and refreshments. While proceeds are dedicated to the Regional Food Bank and the Joseph House of Troy which provides emergency services, it is hoped that registrants will supplement with a non-perishable food item. Go to: troyturkeytrot.com.

            Saratoga Springs serves up the 15th annual Christopher Dailey Turkey Trot. Unlike the traditional, flatter courses seemingly preferred by turkeys herding to market, race director Maria Dailey describes the course as “moderately challenging,” as anyone who has circled the Skidmore hills can attest. Still, there is that feather-ruffling free fall down the North Broadway hill across the finish to look forward to. And while most trots prefer tradition, the Saratoga edition has boldly sampled a variety of menus (aka homes and courses) – from a home-based use our bathroom affair, to parking at Gavin Park for the growing flock of runners, to its current downtown home.

            To celebrate their 15th year, the Daileys wanted to do something different so they have donated four running chariots to Ainsley’s Angels to enable challenged youth to ride with the wind. Shaun and Shamus Evans will be leading the flock of pink-winged chariots, which will start five minutes before the thundering herd. Check out: christopherdaileyfoundation.com.

            Eat more duck! Schenectady’s turkeys favor their own 35th annual Cardiac Classic 5K’s town reunion atmosphere. The tour around Central Park, including the Duck Pond roundabout, highlights another member of the fowl family that rarely makes an appearance on dinner tables. While runners are subliminally focusing on ducks, the turkeys craftily slip under the radar.

Then too, proceeds benefit Ellis Medicine’s Wright Heart Center, and turkeys who do avoid the chopping block have been documented to drop dead from stress-related heart conditions. This year, there is a $20 dollar charge for the two-mile Wellness Walk, although according to race director, Kristen Adach, “Walkers can still sign up to walk for free, they just won’t get a shirt.” Visit: ellismedicine.org.

            Looking for a low-key neighborhood feel? Then try the seventh annual OurTowne Bethlehem Turkey Trot 5K. Their motto is, “The only time that matters is the good time that you’ll have.” Race director John Guastella emphasizes that “the focus is on giving back to those less fortunate in our community. For one day, it is not about your P.R. or winning a trophy.” As with most area trots, commitment is mandatory, with no race day registration. But in a nod to those turkeys still on the fence, the Wednesday evening “Procrastination Registration” participants will be rewarded for stepping up to the plate with an impressive fireworks display.

Expect a flat route through the older Delmar neighborhoods punctuated by costumed players, scarecrow mile markers, and Thanksgiving trivia questions. And of course the real reward is getting reconnected with your neighbors and supporting the Bethlehem Food Pantry and Community Fund. Go to: ourtownebethlehem.com.

            Too busy cooking, eating or visiting to fit in a trot? Or in need of some post-holiday atonement? Then sample the ninth annual “Run Off That Turkey” Trot 5K on Saturday November 26 in Altamont, where last minute signups are permitted. Note the new 9am start time, adjusted so runners have extra time to stay for awards, and still get home early. Besides luring out-of-season turkeys, this event is unique in that pre-registered 70-plus runners can enter for a reduced rate, and the five-year age divisions extend to 80-plus – making life more rewarding for the tougher roasters.

Unlike other trots that encourage mixed flocks of sprinters and walkers, this event has its own walk division, with the top ten male and female finishers receiving awards. Preregistered runners receive a handy pair of running gloves to jumpstart the winter. Proceeds benefit the Helderberg Running Club’s junior Olympic team, and participants are encouraged to bring a dry good for the Food Pantry. Check out: zippyreg.com.

            While little ragamuffins no longer roam the neighborhoods demanding “Anything for Thanksgiving?” they have been replaced by an eager crowd of costumed runners of all ages, running or walking a fixed route through their local towns in search of a well-earned appetite, and an opportunity to share their bounty.


 Laura Clark (snowshoegal33@gmail.com) of Saratoga Springs is an avid trail runner, ultramarathoner, snowshoer and cross-country skier. She is a children’s librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.