Before the turkey comes out of the oven and the pumpkin pie is devoured, families and friends of Northwest Indiana partake in a Thanksgiving tradition that promotes community-wide health. The 14th annual Turkey Trot, hosted by Porter-Starke Services, attracted 4,000 runners to Valparaiso High School this year. Runners of all ages took to the streets, competing in either the 5K or 10K. Though the race meant something a little different for each runner, the common goal of celebrating the holidays with family was shared by all.
“On this day of appreciation, we’re honestly just truly grateful for this compassionate community of walkers, runners, sponsors, and volunteers that join together each year in support of health and wellness, not only for themselves, but also for so many of the individuals that benefit from the programs the Porter-Starke Services Foundation supports,” said Elliot Miller, Director of Marketing and Development for Porter-Starke Services.
At race registration, Valparaiso natives Bob and Bobby Kennedy stood out from the sea of maroon Turkey Trot shirts and turkey hats. Dressed in full pumpkin and pilgrim costumes, the duo was excited to share the morning with their family, who Bob joked were avoiding them because of the attire.
“[Porter-Starke Services] is a cause we both support,” said Bobby. “Mental health is one of the overlooked issues in our country, so we thought why not have some fun supporting the cause.”
Bob added, “[The Turkey Trot] is a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our daughter, her family, and our grandchildren are all running too.”
With thousands of runners, it would be hard to ignore the popularity of the race. Miller credits the race’s size to the holiday itself.
“I think that Thanksgiving day is a natural runner's day,” said Miller. “It’s a good time to come together with family and friends and appreciate community. Nationwide, Thanksgiving is a great day to run. Here, we’ve really tried to improve the race every year. Every year we make improvements. We listen to our runners and our walkers, and we try to adapt.”
Former VHS students Maddie Hathoot and Sydnye Nosbusch were grateful for the chance to return home from college and enjoy the Turkey Trot.
Hathoot, who has been running the race since seventh grade, said, “My mom signs up every year for early registration. It’s just become a family tradition for us. It’s a nice race because it’s Thanksgiving, so you have an immediate reward after. It makes for a great atmosphere here at Valparaiso High School.”
As former cross country teammates, the pair also enjoyed the chance to race together again.
“It’s really nice to see everyone again and to reunite with old friends,” said Nosbusch. “[Racing with old teammates] is really nice, because we get to reconnect with that running bond we used to have with each other.”
On top of the 4,000 runners and walkers, there were also hundreds of volunteers that ensured the race went smoothly.
Danielle Angert, though usually a runner, decided to volunteer this year due to injury.
“My family has run this race ever since we moved here in 2010. I always enjoyed it, but this year I volunteered because I hurt my foot. The Turkey Trot is a sort of tradition for my family, and not participating in some would have felt wrong. As a volunteer, I had a great time giving back to the community with my friends.”
Whether you were a runner, walker, volunteer, or spectator, the 2016 Turkey Trot was sure to start your Thanksgiving off on a high note.