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Nov. 20, 2018
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Local Thanksgiving Day races burn holiday calories

By Jane Harrison
 
A flock of turkey trots, gobble wobbles and “can” runs hatched around Lake Lanier about a decade ago, offspring of an Atlanta tradition. On Thanksgiving Day area runners and walkers hoping to burn some calories before they fill up don’t have far to drive to the starting line.
 
Long-time running enthusiasts in Cumming, Gainesville, and nearby communities got tired of trekking south every year to run the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon, so they started races in their own backyards. They ditched the 5 a.m. alarm, MARTA train rides, long lines at porta-potties, and sleepy car trips back home for a closer, more family friendly holiday start.
 
Ginny Crumley, co-owner of Georgia Front Runners, and a group of 15 friends ran Gainesville’s first Turkey Trot nine years ago. Instead of heading to Atlanta they took off from Gainesville’s Riverside Drive on a challenging loop course near home. “We made our own t-shirts,” Crumley said.
 
Eventually, Crumley’s t-shirt company would make Turkey Trot shirts, jerseys, or hoodies for around 300 participants in three distances: 5K, 10K and half-marathon. “People run (or walk) it as a family tradition. They do it together,” Crumley said. “They enjoy being together and go home to enjoy a turkey lunch.”
 
Kim Hall, owner of Totally Running in Cumming, started the Tryptophan Thanksgiving Day races for the same reason: to avoid the holiday morning rush to Atlanta. Seven years ago, she organized the first race named for an amino acid prominent in turkey. Tryptophan is linked to promoting emotional well-being and sleep quality.
 
The 5K, 10K and half-marathon, all on the flat Big Creek Greenway, attract around 1,600 runners and walkers, mostly for the 5K. Hall said she had to cap the 5K at 900 participants. Last year about 250 ran the half-marathon. The 10K has room to grow.
 
“The course is a nice out and back. There are a lot of PR’s (personal records),” Hall said. The tree-lined 12-feet wide greenway on concrete paths and board walks offers a beautiful late fall route, she added. “It’s very family friendly … huge families come out and some dress up” in turkey hats, pilgrim attire, or movie costumes. “It’s a fun, family laid-back event, but we do have some fast runners.”
 
You don’t have to be a serious athlete to participate in either race, as neither has a cut off time. But, those with a competitive nature can run their heart out before they dig in to Thanksgiving dinner.
 
For what it’s worth, as a general rule of thumb, the average person burns about 300 calories per 5K, double that for 10K, quadruple for half-marathon. The average American consumes around 3,000-4,000 for Thanksgiving dinner. A holiday morning run or walk might at least burn as many calories as the pumpkin pie with whipped cream they’ll eat later.

Posted online 10/29/18
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